One of the results of rising property prices and the falling value of wages in real terms is that many UK employees can no longer afford to live near their workplace. Although young workers and those on low incomes are less affected by this trend, others have found a drastic increase in both their commuting bills and journey times, making them the highest in Europe. In this article we look at:
- The average UK work commute
- Ways to reduce your commuting bills
- Alternative means of transport
- Making your daily commute better
What is the average commute to work in the UK?
Gridlocked roads, delayed trains and irregular bus services mean that a commuter covers, on average, 17 miles in 41 minutes. In 2017, the average commute time was calculated to have increased by 25% to one hour although 1 in 7 were labelled as ‘extreme commuters’ (spending 2 hours or more going back and forth to work).
The time that employees spend getting to work and their commuting bills depend on their choice of transport, and where they live in the UK. Commuters travelling into London face the longest journey time of 74 minutes and pay on average £305 a month (compared to £146 a month for the rest of the country).
How can I reduce my commuting bills?
There are a number of ways to reduce your commuting bills.
Buy a season ticket
A monthly or annual season ticket will reduce your commuting bills. If you can’t afford to pay upfront, many employers offer an interest-free loan which can be repaid gradually over the year.
Flexible hours and working from home
If your job allows you to adopt flexi-hours, you can make savings on your commuting bills by avoiding the high-cost peak times (6-9.30am, 4.30-7pm). Using technology to work from home once or twice a week will also reduce commuting costs.
Sharing a commute with a co-worker or finding someone on a car-sharing site means you will pay less for your commuting bills.
Alternative means of transport
Where possible, think about alternative cheaper means of transport such as walking, motorbike/moped or cycling.
The key to making your long commute better is to use your time profitably by doing something you enjoy.
If you wish to start commuting by bike, you should ask whether your company takes part in the Cycle to Work Scheme. This government tax exemption programme allows your employer to lend you up to £1,000 to buy a bicycle and the necessary safety equipment. Apart from saving on commuting bills, you’ll also be more eco-friendly and improve your physical fitness.
How can I make my long commute better?
The key to making your long commute better is to use your time profitably. You could take advantage of the extra time at your disposal to restore your work/life balance by doing something you enjoy. Listening to music or podcasts are possible for all commuters. Commuters who travel by public transport have more options including reading, puzzles or catching up on personal correspondence.
Another option is to use the time on the train/bus to catch up on work-related tasks. The main benefit of this is that when you finally reach home, you’ll be able to give your loved ones your undivided attention.