Archive for the ‘Mobility’ Category

Paris v London public transport passenger numbers

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The greater Paris region is the only urban area in the Euro Zone to have more than 10 million people (some 2.2 million of which live in the city itself). So how do inhabitants of this great French metropolitan area get about? How does the situation compare to London? And faced with a rapidly rising population what can we on this side of the Channel learn from how things are done on the other?

Those were some of the themes at yesterday’s The Franco-British Transport Conference. At the heart of the discussions were the financing of urban transport and innovative solutions for the digital age.

From France, ‘The Grand Paris’ project was showcased. This ambitious 32 billion euro programme for a new circular express metro (as well as modernising and expanding existing transport networks) will add to the existing ‘hub and spoke’ rail network in and around Paris, and once opened it has been predicted that 10-15% of drivers will give up their cars as a result.

So how do Paris and London compare when it comes to capital transport? The answers are below:

Paris v London urban transport

Oh, and when it comes to fares, the basic ticket price in Paris is €1.70 compared with £2.20 in London when using an Oyster card (£4.70 without).

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The number of cars in Great Britain has hit yet another record high. In the year to the end of Q3 2013 there were 29,206,000 cars licensed with the DVLA, up from 29,080,000 three months earlier.

The total number of licensed vehicles also rose to a new record – 35,210,000 – according to the figures released by the DfT.

Alongside this data the government also gave its provisional estimate for the total traffic seen on the roads in Britain in 2013. At 306.4 billion miles this was up from the 302.6 billion seen in 2012, but still short of the all time peak of 314.1 billion miles seen in pre-recession 2007.

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When the Chancellor delivers his Budget next month and it comes to the thorny issue of the cost of motoring in general and the rate of fuel duty in particular we hope he will have read the latest set of official statistics from the ONS.

A set of numbers – previously unpublished but requested by the RAC Foundation – collected as part of the Living Costs and Food Survey show once again just how much money the poorest households are spending on buying and running a car.

The data suggests around 800,000 car-owning households spent at least 31% of their disposable incomes on buying and running a vehicle in 2012, the latest year for which official data is available.

In the previous year they spent 27%.

These very poorest families (with the lowest tenth of household incomes in the country) had a maximum weekly expenditure of £167.

Of this £167, £51.40 (31%) went on the purchase and operation of a car.

Of the £51.40:

  • £16.40 was spent on petrol and diesel
  • £9.50 on insurance
  • £6.10 on repairs and servicing

Whichever way you cut it this puts them deep into transport poverty.

These figures are about as definitive as you can get. They give the official picture of the financial sacrifices being made by the UK’s poorest families to remain mobile.

They aren’t estimates of what people are spending. They aren’t models. They are the real world experience of people in the UK, collected as part of an authoritative survey of household outgoings.

It is of course true that these numbers are historical, in the sense that they relate to 2012. And since then there has been some marginal relief at the pumps and reported falls in insurance prices. But if you are spending almost a third of your disposable income on staying mobile then seeing prices retreat slightly from their highs – welcome though this is – will not radically alter your world.

Before Christmas the RAC Foundation detailed how record numbers of people now commute by car, including more than half of workers in the most deprived areas of the country, this data shows the cost of transport is a big hurdle to taking up employment.

For the poorest car owners there is unlikely to be much opportunity to reduce their motoring costs further. They will already be driving as little as they can and will have cut back on things like maintenance. Nor are they likely to be able to afford to swap their car for a newer model with better fuel economy and reliability.

Before tax we have some of the cheapest petrol and diesel prices in Europe but when you add in fuel duty and VAT the picture changes dramatically.

The Chancellor rightly points out that he has frozen fuel duty since March 2011 yet almost 60% of the pump price still goes into his pocket.

The chart below shows how the cost of motoring has changed over the past decade. While the prices of new and used cars have actually fallen, running costs have increased far faster than inflation. (To see an interactive version of this chart, click here.)

The Budget is scheduled for Wednesday 19th March. Given the data we have highlighted today the Chancellor is going to come under a lot of pressure from politicans and campaigning groups (like FairFuelUK) to go further than freezing fuel duty and actually cut it again.

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The Welsh Government spent more on support for the rail industry in Wales than it did building and maintaining the country’s trunk road network in 2012/13, according to its latest Transport and Travel Finance and the Economy report. This is despite only 2% of Welsh workers using the train to commute to and from work, while almost 75% drive or are driven, according to the RAC Foundation’s new The Car and the Commute report.

In the 2012/13 financial year, the Welsh Government spent £200m on the trunk road network, of which £87m funded new construction and almost £100m went on the maintenance and repair of the existing network. Only one new trunk road scheme was started in the year in question – the TTFE report, unhelpfully, doesn’t tell us which one but it does inform us that it is a 7.8km-long road scheme that will cost a total of £165m to build. On the railways, meanwhile, the Welsh Government spent a total of £206m in 2012/13, the vast majority (£175m) of which was in the form of ‘rail franchise and rail services support’.

In addition to direct spending on transport by the Welsh Government, it also provided £139m in grants to local authorities in 2012/13. Here the biggest segment by far was the £63m provided to fund the Welsh bus concessionary fares scheme. Just 4.6% of Welsh workers use the bus to get to and from work.

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A record number of people are now reliant on a car or van to go to work with dependence high even in urban areas.

16.7 million workers in England and Wales get to ‘the office’ either by driving themselves or catching a lift. That’s 62.7% of the employed population aged 16-74.

Reliance is greatest in Wales where 74.2% of employed people aged 16-74 use a car or van.

After Wales comes the East Midlands (71.7%) and then the West Midlands (71.1%). This is the full regional split:

Travel to work table

(To see how the journey to work is undertaken in your area you can see the data broken down by local authority here.)

Even in London 29.8% of working residents commute by car or van ahead of the underground (22.6%), buses (14%) and trains (13.3%).

The average length of a commuter trip by car/van varies little across English regions and Wales at about ten miles. It is highest in the South East (11.2 miles) and lowest in London (8.6 miles).

While almost three-quarters (73.4%) of rural workers in England and Wales now journey to work by car or van, these methods of travel also dominate the commute in urban areas (outside of London) with 67.1% of people either driving themselves or catching a lift.

The numbers are revealed in an RAC Foundation report called The Car and the Commute. The research takes journey to work data from the 2011 Census and compares it to land use information to give a detailed picture of car dependency across England and Wales. It also uses National Travel Survey data.

While it is difficult to compare data on the journey to work from the 2001 Census with that of 2011 because of a change in the way the question was asked, it does look as if there has been a small decrease in the proportion of people using a car to get to work. However population growth means the absolute number is at its highest ever.

The coalition government has rightly prioritised efforts to get the nation working, but Westminster politicians must remember how the nation actually travels to work. People are still driving despite a decade in which the cost of running a car has outstripped wage inflation. The reason for this is that most people have no practical choice.

Previous RAC Foundation research shows that 800,000 of the poorest car-owning households already spend more than a quarter of their disposable income on buying and running a vehicle. The danger is that people will be put off from taking up employment because they just can’t afford the commute.

Something for the Chancellor to think about as the Autumn Statement approaches.

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It is tempting to believe that London is unique when it comes to the way people travel; after all, the capital is awash with alternatives ranging from the underground to buses to taxis to trains, something that cannot be claimed for the rest of urban and rural England. Given the headlines, it would be unsurprising if most people thought these methods of transport far outweigh the car as modes of choice to get to work. Except they don’t, certainly not in the outer boroughs of the city.

On average a car (or van) is used by 29.7% of Londoners to get to ‘the office’, making it the largest single method of travel. Yet this does not tell the whole story. Take places like Hillingdon, Havering, Bexley and Sutton. Here the proportion of commuter journeys undertaken by car is at or over 50%.

At the other end of the scale – City of London, Islington, Westminster, Camden, Tower Hamlets – the number of commuter journeys by car or van can be measured in single or low double figures.

As for cycling, the figure is just 4% across the capital, but in Hackney more than 14% of residents use their bikes to get to work.

The picture is revealed in the latest work from the RAC Foundation, The Car and the Commute. (The data tables for London boroughs are available here.)

The point is that London should not be viewed as a single entity. There is life – and diversity – beyond zones one and two. Something that our politicians, cocooned in Westminster, would do well to remember.

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