• In 2018, one third (33%) of those who commuted by public transport, walking or cycling experienced transport difficulties in England.
  • The share of commuters using public or active transport and experiencing difficulties varied from 48% in the East of England to 22% in the West Midlands.

This chart looks at the main transport difficulties experienced by employed people (aged 17–59 years) commuting to work by public transport (such as train, bus or tram) or active modes of transport (cycling or walking), split by region and age.

Transport difficulties when commuting are associated with poorer mental wellbeing, high blood pressure or a lack of time for health-supporting activities, such as preparing healthy meals, exercise or getting enough sleep.

In 2018, around 33% of workers (aged 17–59 years) experienced at least one difficulty with their commute by public or active transport. Of these workers, around 19% said that poor reliability was their main difficulty, while 2.3% complained about availability and 2.1% said that services are too expensive.

  • The proportion of commuters using public or active transport reporting at least one transport difficulty is broadly similar across age groups. Quality was the main difficulty identified in each age group, but affordability was a greater issue for people aged 21–29 years.
  • The share of workers reporting at least one transport difficulty was highest in East of England (48%) and lowest in West Midlands (22%). Transport quality remained the biggest issue in each region, followed by either traffic (congestion) or availability (of transport options).

A focus on improving the quality of public and active transport is needed to address difficulties experienced by commuters using these modes of transport.

  • The questions asked respondents to state if they usually experience any difficulties with travelling to or from work by underground, light rail, tram, train, bus, taxi, bicycle, or foot, and to state which problem creates the most difficulties.
  • The ‘availability’ category included ‘journey not possible by public transport’, ‘lack of cycling lanes’ and ‘poor connections’.
  • The ‘quality’ category included ‘unreliable public transport’, ‘poor information about public transport’, ‘public transport unpleasant’ and ‘concerns over personal safety’.
  • The ‘other’ category included ‘personal disability’, ‘the weather’ and any other reason not mentioned elsewhere.

Source: Department of Transport, National Travel Survey, 2018

Further reading

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How transport offers a route to better health

25 February 2021

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