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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 July, 2003, 14:37 GMT 15:37 UK
UK commute 'longest in Europe'
Bus queue in London
Outside London only 11% of people get to work on public transport
British commuters have the longest journeys to work in Europe with the average trip taking 45 minutes, according to a study.

That is almost twice as long as the commute faced by Italians and seven minutes more than the European Union average, the RAC Foundation said.

The motoring organisation said it now wants the government to "take a fresh look at commuting from the perspective of the commuter" and to improve 'telecommuting' by computer and video links.

It said seven out of ten people outside London travel to work by car and more must be done to improve roads and public transport so that journey times can be cut.

According to the report, the average distance travelled by UK workers is 8.5 miles - 17% further than a decade ago.

Laura Meyerding

Outside the capital, only 11% of people get to work by public transport and just 5% of commuting is by national rail.

Only 3% cycle to work, while one in 10 walks.

There are some strong regional variations however - with 28% of people in Cambridge cycling to work, and more Norwich people walking to work than anyone else in Britain.

'No improvements'

The RAC Foundation's Kevin Delaney told BBC News the UK's ongoing love affair with the car could be blamed on the lack of improvements in public transport under Labour.

European commutes
Italy: 23 minutes
Spain: 33 minutes
France: 36 minutes
EU average: 38 minutes
Netherlands: 43 minutes
Germany: 44 minutes
UK: 45 minutes

"In the last six years, life for the driver and people who use the roads has not improved, in fact it's probably got worse."

He said there had been no improvements in public transport to compensate.

"The trains are running just as late now, or they certainly seem to be, as they were six years ago," Mr Delaney said.

"Outside London there don't seem to be the same level of improvements in bus services either."

Workplace charging

The foundation also showed that liking an area was the main reason why people did not live closer to their work.

Drivers would rather sit in their cars twice as long than change jobs, move house or change their work base
Edmund King, RAC Foundation

The main reason given for using the car to drive to work was that it was quicker than other options.

Almost half of the motorists questioned said that if their car journey time doubled, they would simply allow more time for their journey.

Only 7% would make the switch to public transport.

The foundation said its findings showed that people are "wedded to the car for practical reasons" and must be catered for by planners.

Car commuters

The RAC Foundation's executive director Edmund King said: "Our research shows that we are a nation of car commuters.

"We have the longest commute in Europe and even if our commuting time doubled most of us would just shrug and leave more time for the journey."

The study asked whether people would pay a 5 workplace parking charge scheme.

More than half said they would park on the road if a charge was introduced, with only 2% saying they would pay the charge.

The BBC's Kevin Bocquet
"We are a nation of car commuters"

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