Car Ownership May Rise as Commuters Shun Public Transport

Two UK surveys suggest that urban commuters could turn back to car ownership to avoid virus contagion risks of using public transport post lockdown.

A survey by parking rental agency,, of 3,000 commuters claims half of the respondents said they would be less likely to use public transport when restrictions on movement are lifted. When asked what they expected their driving habits would be at this time, just over 40% answered that they would be more likely to drive. The survey of also suggested that there is likely to be a small increase in the number of people using motorcycles and bicycles.

The finding were broadly reflected in another study of 1,000 respondents to questions from Kapsch TrafficCom. While about 80% of motorists in the UK consider taking an alternative route to avoid traffic jams and congested roads, less than half said they would consider using public transport is an option.

Both findings point to the possibility of a continued rise in car ownership in the country following on from increasing traffic volumes and road congestion that have been long-term developments preceding the coronavirus pandemic. A key driver has been the sharp rise in the number of registered cars. The number of licensed cars in the UK rose to 32.5M vehicles within five years (2014-2018), an increase of 2M cars.

Harrison Woods, managing director at, said: “Our study indicates there will be fewer people using public transport and more people driving their cars as the lockdown is lifted. This shift in attitude could have a major impact on how we travel in the months and even years ahead, presenting significant challenges for public transport if social distancing measures remain in place for long.”

Steve Parsons, head of UK sales Kapsch TrafficCom, added: “We expect that public transport will be even less popular for getting from A to B after the corona pandemic. Traffic management will have to deal with this.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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