25 Feb 19

Car remains primary means of commuting in Western Europe

A recently published study of the French national institute of statistics and economical studies (INSEE) confirms that employees primarily make use of their car (privately or company owned) to commute to and from the work place, as was already confirmed in other European countries previously.

The new INSEE study concludes that in France, on a total of 23.2 million employees, no less than 7 out of 10 use their car to commute, with the exception of those who live in the Lyon and Paris metropolitan areas, where public transport is more common. In general, public transport is only used by 16% to travel to work, while going on foot (7%) and using a two-wheeler (4%) are even less common. 3% of employees in France say they do not have to commute to go to work. That 70%-figure changes somewhat for those who live near their work place. The study says that 7.5 million employees, or about one third of them, work in the city or village they live in. For them, 51% of all commuting is done by car, 18% on foot and 16% by public transport. For those who work further away, one in two employees travel more than 15 kilometres one way to go to work, and one in four even exceeds 26 kilometres.

What’s the situation elsewhere? In Germany, 68% of the 41.3 million employees used their car to commute in 2016, and only 14% did it by public transport, following figures of the Statistischen Bundesamtes. One of the reasons evoked is the high cost of living in big cities (rent) combined with the high demand for employees in these areas. Examples of cities with a very high number of commuters coming from outside the metropolitan area in 2016 are Frankfurt am Main (352,000 commuters) and München (365,000). One in five employees (22%) commutes between 30 and 60 minutes one way, while 5% travels for more than one hour.

UK figures show the same situation. Department of Transport’s “Transport Statistics Great Britain 2017” figures show that 67% of motorists use cars as the principal means of getting to work, followed by 17% using public transport (10% trains, 7% bus) and 10% going on foot.

In the Netherlands, 60% of commuting is done by car, says Fleet-Mobility.nl, with public transport accounting for 15% of commuting.

For Belgium, the most recent figures from the Federal Service Mobility and Transport date back to 2014 and show that 65.6% of Belgians commute by car, (not counting the 2.9% that carpool), and 17.8% use public transport (10.9% train, 6.9% tram, bus or metro). Commuting on foot is done by 2.4% of all Belgians, while 9.5% use a bicycle.

Picture: Shutterstock

Authored by: Stijn Blanckaert