What does the image show?
The image shows what percentage of people were doing more (shaded bar above the line) or less (striped bar below the line) travel for work and business by different modes in June this year compared with six months previously. The chart shows that within any headline figure of change, there are lots of changes going on in both directions. The left-hand side of the chart shows more people commuting more in June than were commuting less as the economy opened up. This was true across all modes. The right-hand side of the chart shows that only car based business travel increased, whilst business trips on foot or by bus fell significantly.
Why is this important?
We know that more people who had to continue travelling to work during the lockdown periods were more likely to make those journeys by car. As the restrictions have eased it is important to see how public transport responds as the morning commute is an important part of the patronage and, therefore revenue, for the operators. As we enter 2022, the emergency funding support arrangements are being tapered back and if there is a gap between revenue from travellers and operating costs then there will likely be a reduction in service provision to save costs. This will work against our longer term climate commitments to get more people on to public transport. It may yet be too early to say how business travel will respond.
More people have driven for business which could reflect temporary company policies discouraging public transport use or staff preferences. However, substantial amounts of business meetings are now being conducted through on-line platforms such as Teams and Zoom and it will be important to monitor not just what modes are used but how much business travel is deemed necessary as we move into 2022.
Graph: Changes in travelling to and from work, and for business, between January and June 2021.