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Die-hard drivers remain dependent on cars

Steady rise in numbers getting behind the wheel

Die-hard drivers are just as dependent on their cars as they were in the early 1990s, an RAC Foundation report has found.

Those using public transport in the early 1990s are the only ones who have used it more since, the report said.

People who have never used a bus have not been persuaded to do so, while the number of people driving a car has risen steadily.

Driving licence

The report showed that over the period 1993-2005:

  • The percentage of the population with a valid driving licence has risen from 67 per cent to 72 per cent;
  • The total mileage driven has increased by 17 per cent;
  • There has only been a slow down in car usage in London since 2002 (the last year before the congestion charge was introduced);
  • The number of women driving has risen from under 50 per cent to over 60 per cent, while the number of men driving has risen from 75 per cent to 80 per cent;
  • Car use peaks amongst the 35-44 age groups.

Bus usage

The report also said that bus usage in the UK (outside London) had declined by 13 per cent over the period 1995-2005 and only 19 per cent of people frequently used buses.

An increasing number of people never use the bus, (currently standing at 50 per cent). There had also been a 40 per cent increase in train usage over the period 1993-2005, but this increase had come from people being more willing to use the train for occasional trips rather than as a main mode of transport.

There was little change in the proportion of people cycling regularly (7 per cent overall population, 5 per cent in London) in the period 1993-2003, although Transport for London has reported a 50 per cent increase in cycling in London since 2002.

Overall men were more likely to cycle than women and the greatest increase had been seen among 55-64 year olds.

Elizabeth Dainton, research development manager at the RAC Foundation said: ‘It is clear from this research that we are still a very car-dependent nation. Trying and experiencing new things is part and parcel of our everyday lives, but where transport is concerned we tend to stick with what we know. The fact that 50 per cent of people have never used a bus shows that buses are not a suitable or attractive proposition for many people.

‘If we are to see a different pattern of car dependency over the next 12 years public transport needs to provide a much better and more reasonable alternative to the car.’

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