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Survey: UK Drivers Resistant to Switching to Public Transport Even at Higher Fuel Prices

Gasoline prices would have to reach an average of £1.75 per liter (US$12.72 per gallon US) for motorists to consider switching to public transport, according to a recent survey commissioned by the UK’s esure car insurance, a joint venture between Peter Wood and HBOS.

The survey found that although the national average gasoline price is currently £1.15 per liter (US$8.36 per gallon US), British motorists are refusing to use alternative transport. Almost a fifth of drivers (17%) questioned said they would be prepared to pay more than £2 per liter for gasoline (US$14.53 per gallon US) in order to stay on the road.

Seventy-six percent of those surveyed said they worry about rising fuel costs now more than ever before. But despite this, almost half (47%) of motorists asked said they would never consider substituting their car for public transport, no matter how expensive gasoline became.

Younger people are least likely to pay the higher prices; gasoline prices would have to rise to £1.65 per liter (US$12 per gallon) for them to consider substituting their car for public transport—10p per liter below the national average. Drivers aged between 35 and 54 are more resilient; prices would have to rise 57% to £1.81 per liter (US$13.15 per gallon US) for them to consider public transport instead of driving.

The survey was conducted by Fly Research which interviewed a random sample of 1,082 drivers aged 18+ between 5-9 June 2008. Interviews were conducted across the UK via an online questionnaire.



Given the poor state and high cost of public transport (and its unpleasantness) this comes as no surprise.

I'd rather ride my push bike than get on a bus ever again.

I have to laugh at the folk that thought they'd be saving lots of money as fuel prices soared because they ride the bus.

Where I am bus tickets have been rising at a faster rate than petrol prices. LOL
Bus companies are being hammered by their total lack of passenger fuel efficiency and the rising cost of diesel.



The problem of switching to public transport is that most of your car costs are fixed - tax, insurance and depreciation are sunk costs - taking the bus won't help unless you get rid of the car altogether, and most people are reluctant to do that.

You have to push people very hard to actually get rid of a car.

Also, in many cases, the hassle of traffic and parking is such that most people who could use public transport, already use it.

Also, the Brits have had very expensive fuel for some time and have had time to adjust this by buying low mpg cars.

The trick is to have somewhere between zero and one car - perhaps through a car sharing scheme (official or unofficial) government policy could help here by making it easier and cheaper for households to share cars.

We have to break the tyranny of integer car ownership!


Andy that's because outside of London, the buses have been deregulated and sold off. Inside London, the buses are on the whole really very good now - the picture was very different 5 years ago. There are still problems with rush hour but that's simply because so many people still drive into the capital. Get rid of the cars and you get rid of the traffic and buses will flow quickly and efficiently.

Btw diesel represents a relatively small slice of bus operators' cost base but that doesn't stop them using fuel price rises as an excuse for inflation busting (and pocket lining) fare rises.

We badly need to reregulate the bus in the UK.


Several years ago, we gave up our car to try and live with public transport and it was a nightmare. My wife had a 2 hour journey in the morning which included a 30 minute walk into town to catch her first bus.
We ditched the idea and purchased another car and her journey is now 10 minutes one way, in the morning.
The government needs to spend more on public transportation and make it easy for people to use on a daily basis. It should also be policed with security, clean and affordable.
Too much money in the UK is currently being wasted on stupid projects and give-away programs and the public transport infrastructure is suffering.



No the busses were as crap back when they were Glasgow Corporation Transport (ie, government run) as they are now.

Public ownership wouldn't improve things, it would simply accelerate the flow of taxpayers money into bus operations.

Oh, and in Glasgow over 80% of rush hour traffic is busses. On many routes its the busses that cause the traffic jams which they then sit in. Private cars are a tiny fraction of the problem and banning them wouldn't significantly improve the bus services. Preventing the busses from running as such stupid service densities on certain streets would significantly improve their flow, but god forbid that bus passengers would have to walk to a bus stop....



This might just indicate how fruitless it is to insist that we must use mass transit instead of personal vehicles. It has to be a combination of these things. As Mark points out for some people bus commutes are ridiculously long and arduous. Most people do not live near a bus stop. My 30 minute car commute turned into a 2 1/2 hour commute by bus.

We need to accept that mass transit, bicycles, walking, telecommuting are incremental steps to energy reduction. We need to work on ways to improve the underlying issues, foreign oil and sustainability - than to try to tax people into compliance. Fines, punishment, artificial costs - will not recruit people to the cause.

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