Taking public transport to work? Don't be so smug


Close-up of a young man sleeping on a commuter train

Taking the train or the bus to work could never be described as stress-free, but at least you have the satisfaction that you're saving money and saving the planet compared to your gas-guzzling car-bound counterpart.

At least you did... until it emerged that you're likely to be spending £20 over-the-odds travelling by public transport.

The study

Research involving almost 2,000 commuters by Vouchercodespro.co.uk found that 37% of people travel to work by car, while 31% use the bus, 17% travel by train, 7% walk to work, 5% get a lift with someone else, and 3% cycle.

Those who drive to work calculated that on average they spent £90 a month on travel costs to and from work. Meanwhile those who used any kind of public transport said they spent £110.

George Charles, spokesperson for VoucherCodesPro.co.uk, said: "I think most people assume that travelling via public transport to and from work would be cheaper than driving themselves, but clearly that isn't the case."

Is this fair?

You can easily argue that this isn't an entirely fair comparison. The cost of a car also includes the tax, insurance, maintenance, servicing and depreciation - which easily makes travelling by car more expensive. If you were to take these things into account, then a study last year found that travelling by car was far more expensive than on the eight commuter routes they checked.

However, Charles insists that if you assume that you have a car for the weekends and evenings anyway - then you're already facing these costs, and the additional depreciation from commuting is insignificant.

Likewise you could argue that for those commuting long distances, or through crowded places like central London, the difference in cost may be justified because of the time and stress saved.

And you could point out that there's a good chance that many of people people travelling by public transport will be doing so in cities - where the additional cost of parking would make driving uneconomical.


However, when you consider that 56% of the people involved in the survey admitted that they struggled to afford their commute, it raises the question of just how much further the cost of public transport has to rise before we can no longer afford to travel.

Clearly if you can join the smug minority who get a lift, or travel to work under their own steam, then you can pay next to nothing for your travel. The Office for National Statistics says that the average commute to work is 9.32 miles, so that's just over 30 minutes by bike - or 45 minutes if you want to take it easier.

If your journey is a bit longer, then there may come a time when you have to calculate the cost of your commute, and whether it makes financial sense. It might take a bit of time to do the calculations - but at least it will help pass the time you get to spend on delayed public transport