UK commuters stuck in Europe's slow lane

Jul 22 2003 by Brian Amble Print This Article

The UK's car-addicted commuters face the longest average travelling times to work in Europe, according to figures released today by motoring organisation the RAC Foundation. At 45 minutes per day, the UK average is almost twice that of Italy.

The average distance travelled by commuters has also risen 17 per cent to 8.5 miles in the past decade,

But despite growing congestion and ever slower traffic, half of commuters said that they would still use their cars even if the journey took twice as long. Even so, the main reason given for using the car to drive to work was that it was quicker than other options.

The survey shows that almost three quarters of commuters outside London use their cars to get to work. Buses are the preferred mode of travel for two thirds of non-car commuters using public transport.

But commuting to work accounts for nearly half of all the UK's rail journeys, with the lion's share of rail commuting taking place in London and south east England

Only three per cent of people cycle to work, but almost one in three per cent do in Cambridge. Nationwide, one in ten walk to work, but almost a quarter of workers in Norwich commute on foot.

The RAC Foundation's executive director Edmund King said: "Our research shows that we are a nation of car commuters.

"We have the longest commute in Europe and even if our commuting time doubled most of us would just shrug and leave more time for the journey.

"Drivers would rather sit in their cars twice as long than change jobs, move house or change their work base.

"However, many commuters would revolt over the prospect of having to pay workplace-parking levies."

Twenty per cent of people said their reason for not living closer to work was that they liked the area in which they were living. Other reasons included good housing and good schools.