Last reviewed 5 May 2021

The results of a survey asking people what modes of transport they used before the pandemic for various activities, and which they intend to use once all restrictions are lifted, will make disappointing reading for supporters of sustainable travel.

According to the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT), cars will continue to be the preferred mode of transport for around half of journeys in the UK.

The adult population largely expects to choose to travel as they did before the pandemic, with private cars remaining the dominant form of transport for around half of trips for shopping (50% vs 49% before the pandemic), leisure (54% vs 52%) and personal matters (53% vs 52%).

CBT Chief Executive Paul Tuohy said: “Cars are the main contributor to carbon emissions and lethal air pollution, so returning to a car-dominated transport network is simply not an option post-Covid. Our research highlights that, unless the Government does more to promote public transport and encourage its use, we cannot hope to reduce harmful emissions or build back in a way that is fair and sustainable.”

The research also asked people what would encourage them to increase their use of public transport in the future.

Less crowding (30%) came top, followed by cheaper tickets (29%), better routes (29%), and more frequent (26%) and punctual (22%) services. Simpler payment options (including the ability to “touch in and out”) would encourage 15% of respondents, with 12% saying better access to real time information would make them choose public transport more often.

Given the number of people who will be working partly from home, the lack of affordable ticketing options for part-time commuters could result in an increase in car use or a delay to the economic recovery, the CBT points out.

Perhaps most worryingly, the research revealed that a fifth of UK adults say “nothing” would currently encourage them to increase their use of public transport.