Issue date
14 Nov 2018
South West workers have lost an extra day per year commuting to and from work. Average daily commute in South West in 2017 was over 51 minutes (both ways)

Getting to and from work in the South West now takes 6.2 minutes longer each day than a decade ago, according to new analysis published today (Tuesday) by the TUC to mark the annual Commute Smart Week organised by Work Wise UK.

For the average full-time worker, this is almost an extra day spent (23 hours and 15 minutes) commuting to and from work than ten years previously. 

South West has seen biggest rise across England

The region has also seen the largest increase to their commuting times in England, and is second highest increase after Wales across the UK.

The TUC blames growing commutes on three main factors:

  • Low government spending on transport infrastructure
  • Employers not offering flexible and home working
  • Real wages falling while house prices have risen, making it harder for people to live close to where they work

Rail commutes take longest

  • Across the UK, rail commuters face the longest journeys, spending an average of 2 hours and 11 minutes every day – an increase of 4 minutes in the last decade.
  • Drivers spend 52 minutes on the road to work and back (up by 3 minutes), while bus commuters must set aside 79 minutes a day (up by 7 minutes).
  • Cyclists (44 minutes) and walkers (29 minutes) have the quickest daily journeys.

TUC Regional Secretary for the South West, Nigel Costley said:

“Spending hours stuck in traffic or waiting for yet another delayed train or bus that will be packed to the rafters when it finally arrives swallows up precious family time. It also makes journeys more stressful and less comfortable for working people trying to get to and from work on time.”

“Privatisation of trains and buses is failing. Journeys are too expensive, too slow and too unreliable."

"When the Dawlish line closes due to bad weather, we effectively lose half the region, and become even more reliant on the M5 corridor. And our cities and large towns like Bristol, Exeter and Plymouth still remain heavily congested during peak times.”


“We need to bring services back into public ownership. And cuts to public funding for bus routes should be reversed.”

“Employers can make a difference too. Home working and flexible working hours can cut journeys and help avoid the rush hour. And if staff have fewer stressful journeys, they can focus better on their work.”

Work Wise UK Chief Executive Phil Flaxton said:

“Long commutes have become a part of the UK’s working culture. But the excessive time spent commuting is one of the main factors contributing to work-life balance problems.

“Not only is the time spent commuting an issue, the 9-to-5 culture with its peak travel times generates congestion. And the rush-hours on railways, underground and road networks increase stress for commuters.

“The overall message for employers is that job satisfaction can be improved, and stress levels reduced if workers have opportunities to cut their commuting time. That could mean working from home occasionally or staggering their hours.  It could also be good news for employee wellbeing and retention, with lower costs to businesses.”

Editors note

- All figures are based on TUC analysis of figures from the ONS Labour Force Survey, using the latest figures for 2017, and figures for 2016 and 2007.

- 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). A working day is assumed to be 8 hours.

Average commute length (both ways):

2007

2017

Change 2007-2017

UK

Mins per day

53.6

58.4

+4.8

Hours per year

201

219

+18

South West

Mins per day

45.4

51.6

+6.2

Hours per day

170.25

193.5

+23 ¼

UK average commute lengths (both ways) in minutes by main mode of transport:

 

2007

2017

Change 2007-2017

Car, van, minibus

49.4

52.2

+2.8

Motorbike

44.0

50.0

+6.0

Bicycle

37.8

43.8

+6.0

Bus

71.6

78.6

+7.0

Train

126.8

130.6

+3.8

Underground

97.2

98.0

+0.8

Walk

27.2

29.2

+2.0

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

 

2007

2017

Change 2007-2017

North East

45.0

51.0

+6.0

North West

49.4

53.0

+3.6

Yorks and Humberside

49.6

52.6

+3.0

East Midlands

48.6

53.0

+4.4

West Midlands

49.6

52.4

+2.8

East of England

56.2

62.0

+5.8

London

76.8

80.8

+4.0

South East

57.4

62.0

+4.6

South West

45.4

51.6

+6.2

Wales

44.8

53.2

+8.4

Scotland

49.8

52.2

+2.4

Northern Ireland

46.2

46.0

-0.2

England

54.7

59.8

+5.1

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.