In the United Kingdom, longer commuting times have become the norm for many workers. According to the June 2011 podcast publication, “Commuting to Work” from the Office for National Statistics, approximately two in five employees spent 5 to 15 minutes a day traveling to and from work. Another 33% spent 16 to 30 minutes on their daily commute. The remaining 25% of commuters spend upwards of 31 minutes in traveling time, to and from their jobs. When comparing these national numbers to London only, we see a massive disparity. Twice as many London workers spend 31 minutes or longer in their average daily commuting times. That’s a whopping 56% of people working and commuting in the Capital. With massive congestions on a lot of the major roads in the UK, the fact that 71% of travelers choose to drive to work, is adding to the increase in commuting times. On a whole, the average UK worker spends nearly 200 hours a year traveling to and from work.
The longer commuting story is a similar one for Irish workers. According to a well-respected study conducted by the Irish Economic and Social Research Institute, work travel times for people in Ireland, is on the rise. The report by Edward L.W. Morgenroth, released in April 2002, included data from the first quarter 2000, ”Irish Quarterly National Household Survey, Travel to Work” survey. The numbers indicate that the majority of workers in Ireland spent at least 5 minutes commuting to work. With a sizeable one in five having spent 20 minutes or more traveling to and from work. In 2000 the overall average commute time was 26.8 minutes. In the “CSO 2006 Census of Population – Travel to Work” report, the numbers show that the average travel time to work had increased to 27.5 minutes, up from 2002’s average. In the same Central Statistics Office of Ireland (CSO) report, of the approximately 1.7 million workers in Ireland, about 70% spent 15 minutes or more traveling to or from work. About another 1 in 10 spent more than an hour in commuting time.
The task facing a lot of governments revolves around the growing demand for workers to spend more time in the office, versus having a life outside of work. Solutions involve employment models that encompass working from home, flexi-time and work sharing. However, as long as employers require the physical presence of their workers in the office, during the core business-working hours of the day, commuting times can only get longer.