News

Five surprising facts about commuting

4 min read

27 October 2015

From the individual with the nation's biggest commute, to the demographic which can expect to have the longest journey to and from work, Real Business brings you the quirky facts that might make your route seem a little more palatable.

How long was your commute this morning? An hour? Half an hour? Three minutes as you wondered from your kitchen into your home office? Commuting is a uniquely human activity and for most people it’s a chore. According to the Office for National Statistics, a long commute can increase anxiety and lead to depression. Take comfort, though – there’s always someone who has a worse commute than you.

(1) According to data from the 2011 census there are 100 people who commute on weekly basis from the Orkney Islands all the way to Southwark in South London. 

That’s about 530 miles as the crow flies, but in practical terms it probably involves two plane journeys as well as a long drive plus a Tube or cab trip – as well as a fare of around £300 return.

(2) Britons spend, on average, around a year of our lives commuting – that’s a total of 10,634 hours. Recently it was reported that 1.8m Britons were travelling three hours or more daily to get to and from work – while the average commute has increased from 45 minutes in 2003 to 54 minutes today. 

According to the TUC, men in their early 40s are the people with the longest commutes in the UK. They take more than 67 minutes on average getting to work and back every day.

(3) Nearly six hundred people commute from Cornwall all the way to Ipswich, according to 2011 census data – with 399 from the county off to Coventry, 367 travelling all the way up to Northumberland and 284 actually going up to the Highlands of Scotland. Looking at it the other way round, nearly 250,000 people go to Cornwall for work, travelling from as far as Doncaster, Stockton-on-Tees and from Tower Hamlets.

(4) Taking the prize for one of Briton’s longest commutes is Gary Egan who clocks up around 160,000km annually between his home in Porthcawl, South Wales, and the graphics company he works at in Watford, Hertfordshire. 

The father of two sets his alarm for 3.30am and drives to his office. This marathon commute costs him about £15,000 year in diesel, tolls and insurance, he reckons. The journey is worthwhile, he says, because he has a great job and can also enjoy life in the Welsh countryside.

(5)  If you think you’ve got it bad then spare a thought for the commuters of Bangkok, Thailand. Here people spend about two hours getting to work and back. There are reports of parents dressing and feeding their children in the car as they nose through the rush hour traffic to get to work and school. 

On the other hand, the world’s shortest commutes are thought to take place in Malawi where on average it only takes around two minutes for someone to get to their place of work. This relative blink of an eye journey time is enjoyed by just 5.4 per cent of British workers.

What is your commute to work like? Is it particularly unique? Let us know in the comment box below.