Transform the journey: better commutes for all

Transform the journey: better commutes for all

The UK needs better commutes after the pandemic

Transport is often in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Expensive, stressful and unreliable commutes negatively impact employee wellbeing and productivity. As we consider how to rebuild after the pandemic, the UK has the opportunity to carve out a new future for the commute: one which is better for people – and the planet.

The change we're calling for

That’s why we’re asking the government to accelerate the delivery of critical commuting infrastructure across the country. We’re also asking business to consider using flexible working options to ease the burden of the commute on their employees.

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    The government must build houses, transport and digital infrastructure on time and on budget – including projects like HS2 and Crossrail

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    The government needs to provide devolved decision-making power and funding to cities and towns, enabling them to improve their own urban infrastructure

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    Businesses must understand how their employees commute and support flexible working arrangements allowing staff to work when and where they want to

Why it's needed

Because of the hours they lose, commuters have lower levels of life satisfaction and happiness on average than non-commuters. Productivity suffers not only because of when and where people work – but how they get there. To combat this, commutes need to waste less time, be more affordable, and feature technology that makes it easier to work or relax en route.

A lower-carbon commute will help meet net zero targets, improve air quality – and quality of life – for all.

Businesses should build on flexible working policies developed during the pandemic, enabling people to work when and where they want; alleviating the burden on roads and public transport at peak times. Fewer hours would be lost as a result of congestion, and business will gain access to a bigger pool of talent.

The government must invest in the infrastructure needed to create this commute of the future. The National Infrastructure Pipeline sets out record levels of public investment in transport, but more needs to be done to ensure projects – whether tech, transport or low-carbon – are delivered on time and on budget.

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"As employees look ahead to life beyond coronavirus, they will have new expectations of what commuter transport networks should deliver for them. The journey to work will need to be affordable, greener, and significantly more reliable. This can only be achieved by business and government at all levels working together to deliver the right infrastructure and make better use of existing capacity on our networks – from a plan for delivering zero emissions travel to expanding smart ticketing and continuing to promote flexible working."

Matthew Fell, Chief UK Policy Director, CBI

The journey to a better commute

A faster, more flexible commute benefits everyone

The commute is in desperate need of an overhaul. There is a significant cost to business, alongside a staggering personal cost to wellbeing, of disrupted or inefficient journeys to work.

  • UK drivers lost an average of 178 hours a year due to traffic in 2018, at a cost of £7.9bn — an average of £1,317 per driver.

  • In 2019, 34% of UK carbon dioxide emissions came from transport, making it a key sector to tackle to achieve a 2050 net-zero target.

  • Before the pandemic, regions such as the South East (where 32% of workers had the option of flexible working), generally saw the highest levels of productivity in the UK.

Our progress and impact

The CBI campaigns tirelessly on behalf of our members so that business creates prosperity for all. Learn more about the work we do and the impact we are making on this issue.

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Support the change

  1. Are you a business leader?

    Join the CBI

    Our members are our mandate, and the reason we're the most influential business organisation in the UK.

    Join the voice of business, and help us campaign to ensure the UK implements a fresh new approach to commuting that benefits both firms and people.

    Become a member
  2. Are you a CBI member?

    Have your say

    We want to hear your business’ views on the four core areas related to the commute: productivity, affordability, decarbonisation, and the future of mobility. If you have thoughts on how business and government can work together to solve these issues, please get involved and help drive real change.

    Get Involved
  3. Are you a policymaker?

    Make a difference

    This campaign is led by the CBI's Infrastructure and Energy team.

    Contact Liz Crowhurst, Head of Infrastructure, to find out about the change UK business urgently needs and how you can support it.

    Contact Us