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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 August 2006, 11:17 GMT 12:17 UK
Cars 'vital to 47% of UK drivers'
Cars, buses and taxis on a London road
Public transport is most viable in London, the study found
Almost half of British drivers say they could not substitute public transport for any of their car journeys, an independent survey has found.

The study, by the Centre for Economics and Business Research, suggested that 47% of drivers said they had no alternative to their car.

About 10% of drivers said they would not give up their car, no matter how expensive it became to run.

People in London said they could most cope without having a car.

The response reflects the high level of public transport alternatives in the UK's capital city.

Car owners in the main Scottish cities, such as Glasgow and Edinburgh, were the next to say they could live without their vehicle.

School runs

The survey also found that although most school runs are shorter than four miles, fewer than one in 10 school-run mothers and fathers said there was a public transport alternative.

Fewer than a quarter of respondents said car journeys for activities such as shopping or short leisure trips could be replaced by public transport, walking or cycling.

The Centre for Economics and Business Research survey, which spoke to 2,500 people, has been published by insurer Swiftcover.

"We were amazed by these findings - it seems to be that many millions of the nation's motorists believe they have no alternative to their cars," said Swiftcover's chief executive Andrew Blowers.

"It is especially surprising that less than one in 10 parents believe they could use public transport to get their kids to school.

"Either the alternative doesn't exist or local authorities need to do more to promote the alternatives, because clearly the nation does not see any other option than jumping in the car."

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

Public transport is virtually non-existent and what little there is very expensive
Nigel, Eastleigh
Up until a few weeks ago I had mixed views about whether I needed a car. I lived a short distance from my place of work and was able to cycle there. Unfortunately I was made redundant and now have a 40 mile round trip to my new job. Public transport is virtually non-existent and what little there is very expensive.
Nigel, Eastleigh

I'm shocked and concerned that they expected any other result. Back in the sixties they took away a substantial part of our railways, cut back on public road transport and forced us into the car. Now they tell us that railways and public transport are the way forward! What a short sighted bunch of comedians they are.
Peter Dixon, Stoke on Trent

There are often viable alternatives, but until people get it into their heads that (1) walking should be a viable alternative for many journeys at least up to 1 mile, and (2) public transport alternatives often do exist, but will not be absolutely direct door-to-door, they will always cling to their cars. Key to getting past this is being prepared for a journey to take longer than it does if they just jump in the car, but we're all too selfish about our time.
Niall McGee, Belfast

I am one person who would not be able to enjoy my current standard of living without a car. I live and work in south east London. The public transport network in London is mostly geared for those who commute into central London from the outskirts, not for those of us who need to travel across London to and from work.
Andy, London SE

Funding must be made available for marketing the alternatives to car travel
Rory McMullan, London
The survey shows that funding must be made available for marketing the alternatives to car travel. The majority of car trips are less than 2 miles, easily within cycling distance for even the least fit. Remove these short car trips from the road and we would open up road space which can be used for cycle and bus lanes improving the alternatives. As seen in London where TfL have funded a huge travel awareness campaign, many motorists are prepared to change if they know about, and feel confident about the alternatives, which in many cases already exist.
Rory McMullan, London

No, I could not manage without my car, my time is so limited that it is a necessity. I work, I am single and living with my disabled mother who I care for and we have two dogs to look after. I run the house single-handedly and so I have to use my car even for the shortest trips to fit everything into the day.
Yvonne, Cardiff, Wales

How can many of us give up a car? The government wants a flexible workforce from tradesmen to professionals, many self employed. We work at great distances from home in many areas of the country with many contracts lasting 6 months or less. There is no public transport option if you live in Bristol and commute to South Wales daily. These surveys seem to assume that everyone lives in town and within 5 miles of their work place like the good old days. If people are lucky enough to live and work in the same city public transport may be an option. Don't look to Bristol for a good example though.
Joe Dudman, Bristol

There is no direct public transport service between home and the doctors, dentist, supermarket, the in-laws or anywhere else that we travel to on a regular basis. OK, it would be feasible to get there by bus or train, but in every case what is now a ten minute journey each way would be at least an hour and what is a half hour journey would be an hour and a half. And would buses and trains take two dogs as well as my wife and myself?
Brian W, Chelmsford, England

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