Changes in Commuting Patterns Don’t Mean Fewer Cars

The UK is facing some of its biggest changes in decades as it follows the government’s guidance to “live with” the coronavirus. In fact, the pandemic has in many ways brought to a head a number of pressure points that society as a whole, and the economy, in particular, has been facing for many years.

Specifically, a country that relies on what one previous prime minister called the “great car economy” is having to reconfigure itself in some fundamental ways; one of which is the traditional idea of the five days week commute to and from work. While this routine is over for many people, this does not mean that car ownership will fall; indeed, research shows that cars are set to become even more important than ever.

Car Based Society

A survey by a major motoring organization on likely commuting habits after the Covid pandemic found that the percentage of workers commuting five days a week is set to drop from 49% to 32%; from nearly a half to less than a third.

On the whole, the average individual commute is likely to be three days a week rather than four, and nearly 20% of people don’t expect to commute at all. Thus, the impact of home working and schooling has left a lasting legacy on the living/working arrangements of a significant number of households across the country.

Driving to and from work, however, is only part of the picture. The fact is that British infrastructure has been designed around car use for many decades; supermarkets are out of town, housing estates are built on the assumption each unit will house at least two cars, and parking space is always a priority when designing major facilities like hospitals (which themselves are usually built out of town).

This in turn is blamed for playing a major part in the “death” of high streets and town centers across the UK.

Owning a vehicle is also vital for rural communities. This has always been the case, but cuts in public transport and the closure of facilities like banks have made this situation even more acute.

Sadly, even MOT test centers in rural areas are becoming less and less common, meaning owners have to drive ever further to book their tests.

Post-Pandemic Car Use

If anyone thought that not commuting to and from work would mean a decrease in demand for cars, they’d be very wrong. In fact, what various lockdowns have shown people is just how much they depend on the car.

Perhaps because they’d been used to commuting, and probably shopping on the weekend, many drivers had not realized how difficult it can be to access vital services, or even shops, without their car.


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    One of the many striking images to come out of easing of restrictions was the huge queues and rows of illegally parked vehicles blighting beauty spots as people headed for national parks for some “fresh air” and natural beauty.

    A large part of this realization is the state of public transport. Whether that’s in the local vicinity, regionally, or nationally, people are finding it very difficult to visit friends and family in any way other than by car.

    The fact is that using the car is quicker, easier, and often cheaper. This is such an entrenched view that a full half of motorists would not consider using public transport even if it were more cheap, clean and reliable.

    Cleanliness is indeed an important issue, especially since the Covid pandemic. With the government advising people to avoid public transport during lockdowns, it is no surprise that this advice was taken to heart.

    Indeed, once government advice changed to finding safe ways to return to work, large numbers of people looked no further than their own vehicles.

    Future Habits

    For all the above reasons, car use and ownership are set to increase in the near and longer-term future. With electric cars becoming cheaper, performing better, and able to be charged at more stations, car owners can also now legitimately feel part of the green agenda.

    In terms of personal safety and virus protection, the internet is becoming an integral part of the motoring experience. People can source, buy, and have delivered new and used cars without leaving their houses.

    The online MOT location service is well established, as provided by websites like, and the government is also set to introduce online provisional licenses. All of this points to a bright future for car ownership.


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    Changes in Commuting Patterns Don't Mean Fewer Cars — Bike Hacks