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Three-fifths of commuters feeling the pinch

Written by Josh Russell on Tuesday, 11 June 2013. Posted in Finance

Consumers off the buses as increasing costs force them to cut back elsewhere

Three-fifths of commuters feeling the pinch

If you’re unaware of how much travel costs have risen in the last decade, you could probably teach an ostrich a thing or two about burying its head in the sand. A news report revealing that professionals are spending more on their commute is unlikely to be the most earth-shattering thing you’ve ever read but perhaps what is surprising is just how far commuters are having to cut back just to get their hands on those invaluable season tickets.

According to the latest Voice of the Consumer report from professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), three-fifths of commuters are feeling the pressure of the latest round of rail fare hikes at the beginning of 2013. The average annual transport spend per person has increased to £1,291 for those in the capital. Those in the North are facing a comparatively slight £1,099, whilst the average transport consumer in the south-east is lumbered with a hefty £1,422 a year in travel costs.

And the difference is having to be made up from somewhere. Of those feeling the pinch, 53% of London-dwellers have had to scale back on both essentials and luxuries, whilst across the waters in Northern Ireland as much as 70% are having to cut back. Long-term saving is looking worse for wear with 27% of Londoners, 29% of Midlanders and 33% of people from Northern Ireland trimming the amount they’re putting away for a rainy day. Meanwhile just shy of a third of London residents are saving a few bob for the buses by eating out less; this jumps to two-fifths when we take a look across the border to our Scottish neighbours.

Coolin Desai, head of PwC’s Transport & Logistics team, commented: “The findings of our research highlight that in this era of austerity, many people are having to make difficult choices across their essential spend and lifestyle preferences – in particular around long-term investments, leisure activities and groceries.”

Given the report reveals that the average Briton spends 8% of their salary on transport, it’s hardly surprising that even incremental fare increases can have a huge knock on effect on people’s cashflow. And whilst it’s tempting to make light of the issue, if increasing transport costs continue to limit spending confidence then it’s possible we could be prolonging a difficult financial situation for much longer. 

About the Author

Josh Russell

Josh Russell

As editor, Russell is the man in charge of properly apostrophising our publication and ensuring Oxford commas are mercilessly excised. Our digital doyen, he’s also a Photoshop Pro, a dab hand with InDesign and the man to go to if you need a four-hour soliloquy about the UK's best silicon startups.

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Comments (2)

  • martin pittaway

    martin pittaway

    12 August 2013 at 09:05 |
    Good article but I would be interested to see where you obtained your info on transport costs especially for the south East. My annual transport costs are between £2500 to £3000 and that's nothing compared to many I know. A commute from the home counties to London is likely to cost £3500 plus pa. Its getting to the point where it will cheaper not to work at all.
    • Josh Russell

      Josh Russell

      13 August 2013 at 13:30 |
      Martin,

      Those figures were included as a part of the original research. It may not be totally clear in the article; that is the average annual transport spend for everybody, not just commuters, which obviously makes the mean figure much lower than it is for just commuters alone. And we agree that commuting can be prohibitively expensive. I am aware from personal experience that the commute from East Anglia is approximately some £5000 a year; for those on lower salaries this can easily be well over a fifth of their income. This is one of many reasons why flexible working is fantastic for those who have the option but ultimately it does seem like these sorts of fair hikes will only be having a negative effect on the economy, not a positive one.

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