Travel chaos costs business billions

May 13 2003 by Brian Amble Print This Article

A survey of over 6,000 workers across the UK and Northern Ireland by employment website has found that transport conditions across the country are worsening.

Almost half of workers - 46 per cent - are now late for work at least once a week, six percentage points more than last year, and one in five - 19 per cent - miss more than an hour week, seven points up on last year.

The weekly work time missed by the average UK employee has risen by seven minutes to twenty-five minutes, costing British businesses over £6 billion in lost productivity.

Things have got so bad in many towns and cities that many people now believe that transport problems can only be lessened if their cities follow London's lead and introduce congestion charging.

From Birmingham to Belfast, Glasgow to Gloucester, almost a third of workers - 31 per cent - feel that congestion charging would improve their journey to work if the money raised is reinvested in public transport. Only 22 per cent are against it.

Unsurprisingly, the picture is particularly bad in London. In the capital, 60 per cent of workers are now late for work at least once a week, a seven-percentage point increase on last year.

However, more than two-thirds of Londoners - 67 per cent - feel their journey has been unaffected by congestion charging, and the fifteen per cent who have seen an improvement is balanced by the fifteen per cent who feel it's made things worse.

"Charging is all very well for minimising traffic, but what about the overcrowding on public transport?" asks one female city worker, "Not only is it poor, it now feels dangerous".

Cyclists disagree however: "Central London is paradise. I cycle every day and have noticed a dramatic change."

Different local conditions are vital to worker's opinions on congestion charging. Hull is the town with the highest proportion of workers - 53 per cent - calling for charges to be introduced for vehicles driving through the city centre. "Hull is a flat, spacious city lending itself to trams, buses, and bicycles", said one respondent working there, "a traffic toll would bring immense benefits." Newcastle comes second, with 40 per cent of workers calling for a charge to be levied.

Not all workers feel congestion charging would be a good thing in their nearest town or city, however. A third of those working in Cardiff feel congestion charging would actually make their transport problems worse, and this view is held in other places such as Bath and Sheffield.

Dan Ferrandino, Managing Director of, says: "Workers are suffering more as their journeys deteriorate. Lost work time, the impacts on people's home lives, and the overall cost to British business have all increased since last year.

"Though it may cost drivers more money, many are seeing congestion charging as an acceptable price to pay to get to work on time. Our research shows that almost a third across regions outside the capital feel this could help solve transport problems in their own cities."