That's the conclusion of a study by the RAC.
More than a third of UK motorists now say they are more dependent on their car than they were a year ago, according to new research, as public transport is seen as an “expensive” and “unreliable”. And the figures show increases in dependency are rising, rather than falling.
The study, which was conducted by the RAC as part of its annual Report on Motoring, found that 35 percent of the 1,753 drivers it quizzed said they were more dependent on their cars in 2019 than they were 12 months earlier. Assuming the sample is representative of the motoring public in general, that means as many as 14.7 million drivers are more reliant on their wheels than they were in 2018.
That number is up from 33 percent in 2018 and 27 percent in 2017, putting it increased dependency at its highest proportion for seven years. At the same time, though, the proportion of drivers saying they are less dependent on their cars has also risen. Some 14 percent of motorists said they were less reliant on their cars than a year previously, up from 12 percent in 2018.
However, the study also found that more than half of drivers (57 percent) would be willing to use public transport more often, were it better. Roughly half of drivers (53%) said they were frustrated by the lack of feasible alternative modes of transport for long journeys, with a similar proportion (52 percent) saying the same about short journeys.
And of those who said they would be willing to use public transport more often, half (50 percent) said it was too expensive, while 41 percent said services were not frequent enough. More than a third, meanwhile, said a lack of punctuality is a “significant barrier” to using public transport, and 38 percent said services don’t run where they need them.
RAC data insight spokesman Rod Dennis said the results showed how important the car was to drivers, despite government attempts to encourage drivers into other forms of transport.
“These findings present the stark reality for so many people in the UK — that for good or bad, in 2020 the car remains an essential means of getting about whether that is for commuting, dropping off and collecting children or going to visit family and friends,” he said. “While the car might be the obvious choice for many people’s journeys, especially for those who have already invested a lot of money in buying or leasing one, it is also clear just how frustrated many drivers are with the lack of decent alternatives for some of their trips.
“For more than a decade now, drivers have been saying that they are willing to use their cars less if public transport was better – and this year’s figures indicate it’s the high cost and low frequency of services that are the biggest problems cited by drivers. At the same time, many drivers continue to believe that public transport does not suit their needs for the sorts of journeys they have to make.
“The ongoing challenge for national and local government, and combined authorities, is therefore to deliver credible alternatives to the car for specific journeys that are regularly completed by a lot of people. Short of cheap, reliable and integrated public transport systems operating all over the UK, it is very difficult to see things changing radically in the years ahead. The car remains an integral part of so many people’s lives, whether that is for carrying heavy shopping, transporting family members or going to visit friends in all the corners of the UK.”