Are commuting times on the rise in the UK?

If you’ve ever been stuck in rush hour traffic, or been packed-in on public transport, you’ll know all too well how frustrating the daily commute can be.

If you travel long distance for your job, maybe for better pay or a better housing, the amount of time the commute adds on to your day can leave you wondering whether it’s worth the hassle.

And the bad news is, it looks like commuting times are on the rise.

Where in the UK has the biggest increase in commuting times?

The South East of England has seen the biggest increase in long commutes, not least because the higher paid positions usually offered in London attracts commuters from its surrounding areas, but the cost of living in London is prohibitively high, even with increased wages.

This means the boundaries around London such as Surrey, Kent and Essex are now firmly commuter-belt areas. And as London and its markets grow, so do the demands placed on public transport and on its roads, resulting in more commuters spending longer getting to and from work.

Where in the UK has the lowest increase in commuting times?

The lowest increase regionally is in the North East. Aside from the main three cities Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlesbrough, the North East is mainly made up of rural towns and cities. The area also has the highest unemployment rate in the UK, suggesting a decline in employment has helped ease the burden of transport and travel in the area.

Why are commuting times increasing?

The number of commuters travelling for three or more hours a day has risen by three-quarters (75%) from 500,000 to 880,000 over the past decade. According to the TUC, a large part of the blame for this is down to the UK’s housing crisis, as well as a lack of spending on roads and railways – the faltering infrastructure combined with soaring rents and high house prices have forced commuters to relocate further away from city centre areas.

The research showed that women have the highest increase of commute times with a 131% rise of women traveling three hours or more. This is a worrying statistic when coupled with a report from 2011 stating that women experience the psychological effects of commuting up to four times more than men, largely as a result of the additional responsibilities of childcare and household chores.

More of us are not only ‘on the go’, but also ‘always on’ – meaning we’re more likely to work at home, outside of office hours, even if only to check emails.

It’s important to remember to switch off once the working way is done, and look after our psychological health and make sure that what we are doing is making us happy.

The infographic below shows how commuting times in the UK are on the rise…

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