Fifth of Britons say they are unable to use public transport to get to work

8th September 2015


Nearly a fifth of Britons (19 per cent) say they would be unable to get to work if they had to use public transport according to the latest survey by Direct Line.

For those who can take public transport, they say it takes on average 48 per cent longer than driving. Six million Brits however, it is nearly impossible to rely on public transport, as they live more than five miles from their nearest train station.

An isolated one million Britons would be unable to get to their local town or city centre at all using public transport.  For another 1.4 million Britons, their journey would take over an hour via public transport. For 3.4 million unlucky travellers, getting to their local town or city from home would involve three or more different trains, buses or tubes.

According to the study, without a car, out of hours travel would be off the cards for 32 per cent of people, who say they are unable to travel before 6am on their local buses or trains while 31 per cent say they can’t get home by public transport after midnight.

Table one: Public transport limitations

Type of activity Percentage of people who would be practically unable to do the activity if they had to rely on public transport
Visit key family members 34 %
Travel before six o’clock in the morning 32 %
Get back home from a night out after midnight 31 %
Enjoy a social life 25 %
Visit close friends 23 %
Get to work 19 %
Take part in certain sports / hobbies 19 %
Get to town or city centre 11 %
Take children to school / college/ day-care 8%
Get to college / university 6%

Gus Park, director of motor at Direct Line said: “Public transport works well for many people but there are still a significant number of people who face journeys that are so long or complex that buses and trains aren’t a viable option.

“Cars are an integral part of our work, social and family lives and being without one is extremely inconvenient. While some may choose to drive rather than use public transport, for others it is simply the only mode of transport that will get them from A to B in reasonable time. With this in mind, we now offer customers our guaranteed hire car cover as standard, so they can rest assured that they will not have to be without a car, should theirs need to be repaired.”

A third of Brits (33 per cent) reported getting public transport into town as a stressful experience. Unsurprisingly, Londoners (41 per cent) get the most stressed about using public transport to get into the city, compared to those living in Northern Ireland (23 per cent) who are the least stressed.

On a regional basis, those living in the East of England face the longest journey time to their local town, with it taking 25 minutes if reliant on public transport, compared to just 13 minutes if travelling by car. Those living in the South West also face double the journey time if travelling by public transport (24 minutes) compared to driving (12 minutes). Those in the East Midlands have the most expensive journey, with it costing an average of £8.82 to get to work using public transport, compared to just £2.81 for those living in Northern Ireland.

Table two: Regional breakdown of public transport travel duration and prices

  Average time it would take to get to local town or city if reliant on public transport (minutes) Average cost to get to work using public transport Average time it would take to get to local town or city by car (minutes)
East of England 25 £8.50 13
Scotland 25 £5.05 18
West Midlands 24 £8.39 15
London 24 £8.14 28
South West 24 £5.61 12
North East 22 £6.51 14
Yorkshire & Humber 22 £4.94 14
East Midlands 22 £8.82 14
Wales 22 £4.38 12
Northern Ireland 21 £2.81 15
North West 20 £5.41 12
South East 20 £7.06 13

Source: Direct Line Motor Insurance, 2015

1 Research carried out by Opinium Research online amongst a nationally representative sample of 2003 UK adults between 7th – 11th August 2015. The results have been extrapolated based on a population of 50,909,000.

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