Longer commutes costing workers time and money

Workwise UK’s Commute Smart Week 2016 runs 13-19 November.

As the nights draw in and temperatures continue their tumble at this time of year, many of us are no doubt struggling more than normal with the daily commute. But it may not just the unwelcome prospect of heading out in the cold and dark that is making your commute seem longer – average travel times to and from work are actually getting longer, according to TUC analysis for Commute Smart Week 2016:

  • 3.7 million workers now spend two hours or more every day travelling to work – that’s  a colossal 900,000 (or 31%) more people than in 2010. 
  • The average commute went up nearly three minutes between 2010 and 2015 (it’s now 57 minutes). In other words, you're spending 10 hours more of your precious free time each year spent cooped up in a busy train carriage or stuck in traffic.  

You can get the full list of figures on the TUC website.  

More investment, more flexible working needed

The TUC is calling on employers to allow more flexible working, and on the government to invest more in our ailing transport system.

The rising cost of transport is hitting many workers hard in the pocket. Long commutes can create stress and have negative effects on our family and social lives, and work-life balance. They can leave us exhausted and less productive at work too. So it’s in employers interests as well as employees’ to adopt flexible ways of working that reduce travel to and from work to a minimum.

Government underinvestment is another part of the problem. The UK languishes bottom of an OECD league table on transport infrastructure spending. We believe stagnant wages combined with soaring rents and high house prices are also playing a part, leaving many workers unable to move to areas closer to their jobs.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady says:  

“Employers cannot turn a blind eye to this problem. More home and flexible working could easily be introduced to allow people to cut their commutes and save money.

“If we are to reduce the hell of traffic jams and train delays, ministers need to invest more in public transport and our roads.”

More information

Want to suggest or request a change in how and when you work? See workSMART’s section on your rights concerning Flexible Working