Has Covid changed British attitudes toward commuting?

Young businessman speaking on cellphone by window of office center

You might suppose that an ongoing pandemic might change our behaviour when it comes to public transport. In an environment where we’re instructed to maintain a prudent distance between ourselves and other people, the prospect of getting onto public transport can be enough to provoke severe anxiety. Plus, there’s the possibility of being stranded in an unfamiliar place.

A survey commissioned by Devitt Insurance reveals the extent of the shift in attitudes. 2,500 Brits were asked about their circumstances, and how changes in their commuting behaviour have actually influenced them.

Tom Warsop, Marketing Manager at Devitt Insurance, commented on the findings: “The lockdown period has obviously been a troubling time for the entire country, but it was heartening to see some positivity coming from the research in how the country is reacting to the ‘new normal’ of their commute.”

Do people enjoy their commute more?

Surprisingly, the proportion of workers who enjoy their commute has actually risen following the lockdown. Before lockdown, just 37% of those polled said that they enjoyed the journey; that figure has since risen to 46%. This move could be explained by several factors, not least of which is the fact that, thanks to a broad and enduring shift toward working from home practices, there are fewer cars on the road and fewer passengers congesting train lines.

Warsop was keen to highlight this trend. “While the stresses of daily life are clearly affecting workers as they head out on their commutes, it was interesting to see that enjoyment levels have actually risen for those workers who are already heading back to their workplaces.

What about stress?

Despite the fact that so many claim to enjoy their commute, a substantial number (33%) reported feeling stress about it. Stress was more common among thirtysomethings, among whom the figure is 40%. Moreover, women are substantially more likely that men to experience commuting stress (47% compared with 31%).

How do the effects differ from place to place?

Of the regions polled, commuting stress is most concentrated in the South East (37%). Wales, on the other hand, is bottom of the table at 28.6%. This difference might be attributed to the influence of London, into which many commuters in the South East find themselves travelling. That the North West, where Liverpool and Manchester are, sits in second place on 34.8%, tells us that city commuting might be a little more stressful than the rural kind.

Has Covid changed habits?

One in six people said that they planned on changing their method of transport as a consequence of the coronavirus. Among those who use public transport, this figure rises to 76%. And among these people, a motorbike is the preferred option (76%). Motorcyclists might be at statistically greater risk of accident, but it’s an affordable and convenient mode of transport, and an attractive one for covid-conscious commuters.

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