Smart Transport

UK public to avoid buses and trains even after COVID-19 lockdown lifts, says Auto Trader

Nearly half of UK public transport users (48%) said they would be less likely to use it once lockdown restrictions have been lifted, according to new research by Auto Trader.

'Transport distancing’, which describes how UK adults would rather be in their own personal car than risk infection or transmission of COVID-19 by using public transport, was even more of a concern for younger consumers, with 66% of 18-24-year-olds claiming they’d be less likely to use it.   

The research from the UK automotive new and used car classifieds website found that more than half (56%) thought that owning a vehicle will be more important in the future.

For those living in a city centre, and typically more dependent on public transport, this increased to 64%.

The research, which was conducted between the April 14th – 17th, consisted of three separate surveys targeting different consumer demographics; in total over 3,000 consumers were surveyed.

While this survey is just a snapshot of current opinion, it hints at the potential risk to the future of transport agencies, which are already under financial pressure due to falling fare revenues.

Transport distancing also has the potential to aid spikes in congestion and will slow efforts to reduce air pollution if those buying vehicles to continue social distancing don't opt for an electric vehicle.

Of the 1,067 people asked about their current attitudes towards car ownership, nearly three quarters (74%) said that they are more concerned about having personal space following COVID-19, which is now beginning to shift their views on their personal modes of transport. 

Over half (56%) of UK driving license holders surveyed (1,059) who currently don’t own a vehicle said COVID-19 has made them consider purchasing a car when it’s safe to do so.

Catherine Faiers, Auto Trader’s chief operating officer, said: “Our research highlights just how profound an impact COVID-19 has had on consumer attitudes towards transport.

“It also confirms that the global pandemic will have far reaching consequences that last after the current restrictions have been lifted.”

Watch our webinar. Covid-19: Transport responses outside cities

A Smart Transport webinar with the University of Hertfordshire

> Watch a recording of the webinar

Webinar content

While travel of all kinds has massively reduced during the Covid-19 lockdown, some travel for key workers and for freight is essential. 

How is this being provided, especially outside major cities? 

And what are the opportunities this might present for the future? 

This webinar will feature two experimental responses in different rural areas in the UK, and reflections from a tech company on the role microtransit, allied with data analysis, can play in meeting lockdown travel needs. 

It brings together Bauer's Smart Transport programme with the University of Hertfordshire's Smart Mobility Unit, which is researching and testing policy initiatives for transport outside cities. 


- Beate Kubitz, innovative transport consultant: An e-cargo bike service for a Pennine village

- Austin Blackburn, Go Coach: Demand responsive buses for Kent during the lockdown

- Darian Helm/ Jerome Mayaud, SpareLabs: Microtransit as a response to lockdown transport needs

- Richard Dilks, CoMoUK: Reflections on mobility and transport outside cities during Covid-19, and implications for what follows.

Webinar chair

Stephen Joseph
Chair of Smart Transport and visiting professor, University of Hertfordshire. 

Watch our webinar

Comment as guest

Login  /  Register


No comments have been made yet.

Related content