A fifth of UK adults can’t commute by public transport

New research has emerged to reveal the reasons behind the UK’s continued reliance on the car for travelling to work or town centres…

A fifth of UK adults can’t commute by public transport

A recent survey from Direct Line Car Insurance has illuminated how 1.5 million people require three or more buses, trains or trams to reach their town centre. One in ten adults say they would be unable to get to their nearest town if they relied solely on public transport and one in seven would not be able to visit their doctor using only public transportation. Limitations such as these suggest reasons to why almost eight million British workers rate their local public transport links as unsatisfactory; emphasised by over nine million Brits unable to access the local supermarket without a car.

In Wales the statistics are worse with nearly 30 per cent saying they can’t get to work solely using public transport. In Northern Ireland 27 per cent have admitted they wouldn’t be able to get to the office without a car, while a quarter of those in the South West depend only on driving. The easiest journey to work using public transport is in London with a mere 11 per cent struggling without the use of a car.

Table one: Regional ability to get to work without a car. Source: Direct Line Car Insurance 2017


Percentage who say they would be practically unable to get to work if they did not have a car and had to rely on public transport

Wales 30 per cent
Northern Ireland 27 per cent
South West 25 per cent
North West 23 per cent
East of England 23 per cent
West Midlands 23 per cent
South East 22 per cent
East Midlands 21 per cent
North East 17 per cent
Yorks & Humber 17 per cent
Scotland 17 per cent
London 11 per cent

Twelve per cent of the British public (more than six million people) live more than five miles away from their nearest railway station. On average the furthest distance away from the station is in the East Midlands, where a typical resident is 3.2 miles away from the nearest train station.

Contrary to popular belief, Londoners are the happiest with the available local transport links. According to the survey 62 per cent of those living in London rate the transport as excellent or very good; nearly twice the national average of 35 per cent. The most dissatisfied with 26 per cent rating their links as poor, very poor or terrible are the residents located in the East of England.

Table two: Regional ranking of transport links.     Source: Direct Line Car Insurance 2017
Region Percentage who are dissatisfied with their public transport links Percentage who are satisfied with their public transport links
East of England 26 per cent 45 per cent
East Midlands 23 per cent 50 per cent
Northern Ireland 20 per cent 64 per cent
Wales 20 per cent 49 per cent
South West 18 per cent 46 per cent
Yorks & Humber 16 per cent 62 per cent
Scotland 15 per cent 60 per cent
North East 15 per cent 62 per cent
West Midlands 14 per cent 55 per cent
South East 14 per cent 58 per cent
North West 13 per cent 64 per cent
London 0 per cent 86 per cent
UK Average 16 per cent 59 per cent

Rob Miles, Director of Car Insurance at Direct Line, commented: “This research shows that while public transport has improved in many areas, there are still perceived issues with accessibility, reliability and quality in some places.”

Although public transport does require improvements in some areas, some people however just don’t like using public transportation. Twenty per cent are discouraged by the expense and 16 per cent are put off by the unreliability of the service. Over one million adults within the UK also admit it is the lack of cleanliness that deters them from using public transport.