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Most car commuters unwilling to switch to bus travel, study reveals

Patrick McDonnell
06 September 2016
 

Most British workers would still commute by car even if free and regular public transport were laid on for them, reveals a survey from an employment law consultancy.

Protecting.co.uk says it could be disastrous for Britain’s environmental and transport policies should people refuse to give up their vehicles on city centre roads that are approaching gridlock.

The firm’s spokesman Mark Hall says: "People would rather sit in a traffic jam in the warm, dry cocoon of their own car instead of ‘slumming it’ on the bus.

"The thing about the motor car is that it has brought us convenience and independence relatively cheaply, and we love our convenience and won’t easily give it up."

Protecting.co.uk asked 1,910 people who drive a car to work if they were prepared to give it up and use public transport, and the answer from the majority was a resounding "no".

• 97% said they wouldn’t switch to the bus tomorrow on current public transport systems

• 87% said they wouldn’t switch to the bus if it were made free of charge

• 48% said they might consider a bus service that ran from near their home to their place of work

• 86% said they preferred the privacy of their own car to the public space of a bus.

"There’s the two problems in a nutshell, " says Hall. "There’s the convenience of driving, and even if that was taken away, people just don’t want to get on a bus to work. We’re transport snobs, even if we don’t want to admit it."

That’s a conclusion backed up by workers who habitually drive their cars to their place of employment.

One of the interviewees, Sue, 28, said: "It’s two buses to get to my office, including a change in the town centre. Nobody’s got time for that, and I hate slumming it, to be honest."

While Nicola, 40, said: "I tried taking the bus, honestly I have. But when it’s raining, you have to share with damp, smelly people and that’s my idea of Hell, thank you very much. Car for me, all the way."

Darren: 25, said: "It’s a good 20 miles to work for me, and that’s an hour and a half on the bus visiting every village in between. Thirty minutes in the motor, 45 on a bad day, that’s why I drive and you can’t convince me otherwise."

Protecting.co.uk also spoke to workplace managers, and found several who are trying to dissuade their employees from driving in. One spokesman said of his company’s philosophy: "We’re aware of the pollution that cars cause, so we’re trying to get more people to arrive by public transport. The trouble is, as soon as we restrict parking spaces, they’ll drive to work and park a few streets away. It’s a battle."

Protecting.co.uk says that one solution might be to reward workers for using public transport services, and even contribute toward season tickets. 

Protecting.co.uk spokesman Mark Hall concludes that it will need a nationwide cultural shift to get people out of their cars and onto public transport, but with petrol still relatively cheap, it’s going to prove difficult.

"If we can’t get people to give up their comfy, warm cars by making buses better, employers are going to have to – well – bribe them. Not so much of a bribe – Think of it as a green investment."

 
 
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