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Getting to and from work every day now takes more than 5 minutes longer than 10 years ago, according to new analysis published today (Friday) by the TUC to mark the annual Commute Smart Day organised by Work Wise UK.
  • Average daily commute in 2018 was nearly 59 minutes (both ways combined) 

  • People in London, the South East and the East of England spend the longest time commuting 

Getting to and from work every day now takes more than 5 minutes longer than 10 years ago, according to new analysis published today (Friday) by the TUC to mark the annual Commute Smart Day organised by Work Wise UK. 

Commute times are up in every area  

Every UK nation and region has seen increases in commute time since 2008. Commuters in the South East have seen the biggest rise, travelling an extra 31 hours a year, followed by the North West (up 26 hours) and the West Midlands (up 24 hours). 

It takes Londoners the longest to get to and from work, travelling for 1 hour and 19 minutes each day, which is 20 minutes longer than the average across the UK. 

They’re followed by people in the South East and the East of England who all spend more than an hour commuting to work every day – 63 minutes and 61 minutes respectively. 

Commute times by gender 

Men tend to face the longest journeys to work, travelling on average for nearly 65 minutes a day, compared to women who commute for 53 minutes. 

But women have seen their travel time increase more than men in the last 10 years, now spending 22 more hours a year commuting to work than in 2018. Men’s commute time has risen by 18 hours over the same period. 

Why are commuting times increasing? 

The TUC blames lengthening commutes on three main factors: 

  • The government not investing enough in transport infrastructure 

  • Employers not offering enough flexible and home-working opportunities 

  • Wages falling while house prices have risen, making it harder for people to live close to where they work 

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “We’re now spending a whopping 221 hours a year going to and from work. Valuable time which could be spent with family and friends. 

“The next government must renationalise trains and buses to cut journey times and fares, and invest in great public transport links in every part of the country.” 

Work Wise UK Chief Executive Phil Flaxton said: “With some 25 million commuters regularly going to a fixed place of work, Commute Smart Day reminds us that we have an opportunity to change our attitudes and thinking in relation to how and when we commute. Employers and their staff should work together in order to avoid unnecessary disruption to the working day which benefits productivity and work-life balance. 

“There are many ways of avoiding the misery of commuting during the dark mornings and evenings, which millions of people endure as they struggle to get to and from work. These include implementing flexi-time, staggered working hours and working  from home.  

“Clearly the government, public transport providers and employers must do more in order to address the major negative impact on the UK’s economy, lost productivity and the environment.” 

Editors note

- Commute times analysis: All figures are based on TUC analysis of figures from the ONS Labour Force Survey, using the latest figures for 2018, and figures for 2008. 
- It is assumed that the average worker commutes to and from work five days a week, 45 weeks a year (to account for 5.6 weeks of holiday and 1.4 weeks of sick leave).  

Average UK commute length (both ways): 

Commuting average mins (day) 

Commuting average hours (year) 

2018 

58.8 

221 

2017 

58.4 

219 

2016 

58.0 

217 

2015 

57.2 

214 

2013 

56.4 

211 

2008 

53.4 

200 

Change 2008-2018 

+5.4 

+21 

Commute lengths (both ways) in minutes by region where worker lives: 

Mins per day 2018 

Change since 2008 

Hours per year 2018 

Change since 2008 

North East 

49.2 

+2.8 

185 

+10 

North West 

54.8 

+6.6 

205 

+24 

Yorkshire and the Humber 

52.4 

+1.8 

197 

+7 

East Midlands 

51.8 

+4.4 

194 

+16 

West Midlands 

56.0 

+7.0 

210 

+26 

East 

61.4 

+4.8 

230 

+18 

London 

79.2 

+3.4 

297 

+13 

South East 

63.4 

+8.2 

238 

+31 

South West 

49.8 

+4.2 

187 

+16 

Wales 

50.8 

+5.6 

191 

+31 

Scotland 

53.4 

+1.8 

200 

+7 

NI 

50.4 

+5.6 

189 

+21 

Average commuting time by gender (both ways): 

Men 

Women 

2008 mins per day 

59.6 

47.2 

2018 mins per day  

64.6 

53.0 

2008-2018 more mins  

+5.0 

+5.8 

2008 hours per year 

224 

177 

2018 hours per year 

242 

199 

2008-2018 more hours  

+18 

+22 

- Commute Smart Day: More information about Commute Smart Day is available at www.workwiseuk.org  

- About the TUC: The Trades Union Congress (TUC) exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together more than 5.6 million working people who make up our 50 member unions. We support unions to grow and thrive, and we stand up for everyone who works for a living. 

Contacts: 

TUC press office 
media@tuc.org.uk 
020 7467 1248 

Work Wise UK  
Phil Flaxton 
phil@workwiseuk.org 
07831 112639