AA/Populus Panel

AA members let bus and train take the strain

7 August 2008

A Southwest trains service to London Waterloo stops at Basingstoke

New Government figures released today confirm the impact high fuel prices are having on car traffic with second quarter estimates showing that car traffic has declined by 2 per cent compared to the same quarter last year.

This backs AA Populus Panel findings which show that 55 per cent of drivers have cut back on car trips.

New data from the AA Populus Panel survey also shows that 39 per cent of AA members regularly use public transport (once or twice a month or more) to get from A to B according to the latest statistics released from the AA Populus panel of 18,5001 motorists.

Almost a quarter of respondents use public transport once a month, 9 per cent use it once or twice a week and 7 per cent use it every day.

The most prolific users of public transport

The survey identified young people between the ages of 18 and 24 as the most prolific users of public transport with some 47 per cent using it at least once a month.

At the other end of the scale the over 65's are the next most prolific users with 46 per cent using public transport once a month or more – for them the free bus pass is probably a significant factor in their choice when compared with the high cost of taking the car.

However a majority (61 per cent) use public transport never, once a year or less frequently than that. Those aged between 45 and 54 are least likely to use public transport at least once a month (66 per cent) closely followed by the 55 to 64 age group (64%).

Typical public transport user

In the survey a typical daily public transport user is most likely to be a professional male, aged between 25 and 34, living in the London area.

The person least likely to be using pubic transport on a daily basis is a manual worker aged between 45 and 54 living in the North-East of England or Northern Ireland.

Overall, four times as many professional people in the survey used public transport on a daily basis compared to manual workers.

AA comment

Commenting on the findings Edmund King, AA President, said, "despite what we hear about people being wedded to their cars, 40 per cent of motorists also use public transport on a fairly regular basis – it's not so much an unwillingness to use public transport, but is more a question of whether suitable networks exist and if it's practical in terms of journey time.

"For many the car is the only option but it should not be forgotten that for some the car can be the first link in a public transport chain if proper interchanges are provided.

"The high fuel prices have had a significant effect on reducing traffic as 55 per cent of members tell us they have cut out some journeys."

Unsurprisingly public transport is used most often by AA/Populus panel members living in the London area but it is surprising that London's public transport popularity does not extend into the rest of the south east with panel members living in Scotland the next most regular users by a significant margin.

Use of public transport by region

(In order of popularity of use)

London – 56% (regular), 44% (infrequent or no use)

Scotland – 43% (regular), 57% (infrequent or no use)

South – 37% (regular), 62% (infrequent or no use)

North West – 36% (regular), 64% (infrequent or no use)

Yorks & Humberside – 35% (regular), 66% (infrequent or no use)

North East – 35% (regular), 65% (infrequent or no use)

E Midlands – 35% (regular), 65% (infrequent or no use)

East Anglia – 34% (regular), 66% (infrequent or no use)

W Midlands – 33% (regular), 68% (infrequent or no use)

Northern Ireland – 32% (regular), 68% (infrequent or no use)

South West – 32% (regular), 69% (infrequent or no use)

Wales – 29% (regular), 70% (infrequent or no use)

(Regular use = use public transport at least once a month or more)


1Populus received 18,547 responses from AA members to its online poll between May 23 and 2 June 2008.

The AA Populus Panel has more than 30,000 members.

AA Public Affairs - the voice of UK motorists


07 August 2008