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.