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Journeys out of lockdown: public views on transport and travel
20 August 2020
From London buses to the tube, public transport is woven into the day-to-day life of Londoners and commuters. However, as PwC’s new transport and travel survey shows, public sentiment has shifted with the capital reopening. Out of 2000UK adults surveyed from 5 — 7 May within Opinium Research data, 33% expect to use public transport less after the crisis ends. This means an increase in demand for alternative modes, whether that’s in the form of increased car journeys, more cycling or even e‑scooters, raising a question about how can future transport investment cases be used to encourage the best multi-modal mix.
Lockdown has significantly changed the way we get around our city
After four months of lockdown, some 63% of Londoners are still working from home, compared with only 50% of our regional counterparts. With the initial advice to avoid public transport, many of us are choosing to travel only around our local hubs and avoiding making journeys into different parts of the city. Many more bikes are apparent on the city streets as new and experienced cyclists enjoy the reduced traffic. Others have been discovering the joys of local walks and green spaces.
City workers who were able to shift rapidly to home working are now questioning the necessity of their commute. Why travel into an office when the work can be done from anywhere? Overall, Londoners are in agreement. 92% say they are having a ‘great’ or ‘good’ experience, compared with 73% in the rest of the country. Perhaps avoiding London’s longer commutes and packed public transport has contributed to this.
Are attitudes to sustainability shifting?
One effect of the lockdown has been a reduction in pollution in some locations. After social distancing measures are relaxed, 58% of Londoners surveyed supported the introduction of permanent measures to maintain reduced pollution levels, protecting the environment and reducing the UK’s carbon footprint.
In order to make London a better place to live, work and visit, we must take this sentiment forward when considering plans for future transport options. The appetite and public support are now here for greener, more sustainable transport services.
The evolution of the London commuter
The reluctance to take public transport had a very sudden and direct impact on the capital. But this also offer a chance to intervene. Having more sustainably aware customers represents an opportunity for smart mobility solutions fit for a forward-looking city. This is the time to focus on a personalised range of transport options kinder to the environment and that help customers looking to switch to more sustainable transport habits. Active travel will become the new normal: car sharing, bikes, e‑bikes, e‑scooters and walking will be the first choice of those who can make it work. Government and business must work together to ensure it can work throughout the city.
The long-term shape of commuting
Coming out of lockdown the appetite amongst Londoners for change is ripe. We have a unique window of opportunity, which we must capitalise on.
Throughout the pandemic, passengers have maintained their level of trust in the transport network. For example, 90% of respondents trusted the train companies’ handling of the crisis. This is reassuring, but there is no room for complacency. As the potential for a second wave remains, transport providers must act now to make a significant shift to what they’re offering commuters.
To be successful in helping to provide choices, collaboration is key. Organisations that don’t normally work together must join forces. Most importantly, any future travel investment decisions must mould to the new shape of London commuters.
For further insights into how COVID-19 has altered the future of transport, you can read more in our report Where next for transport.
If you’d like further information, please do not hesitate to contact me.
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