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One of our scheduled events in our 'public transport' theme that has been put on hold by Covid-19 is Chris Williamson talking about the new report by Weston Williamson + Partners that reveals the habits and experiences of 2000 commuters in 10 world cities: how we get to work, how long it takes us and what kind of mood we are in when we get there. This major piece of research also examines our attitudes toward climate change and whether our concern for the future of the planet affects our choices when it comes to commuting.  

The report looks at which cities that London - the classic city of commuters - can learn from, in order to make the capital healthier and more enjoyable to move around. 

We will reschedule! But until then, here are the major findings.

Public transport comes a poor second according to satisfaction survey

Despite an almost universal recognition of climate change and comprehensive public transport systems, the car is still by far the most popular way to commute in world cities.

Even in London, which has a wealth of transport options, 35% of people are still driving to work. In Los Angeles it is an incredible 89%. In contrast, in Hong Kong, only 9% of commuters drive and over half take advantage of the city’s extensive and reliable metro rail system.

The survey which examined the experience of commuters in 10 major cities around the world also found:

  • The number of cyclists is small to non-existent in all 10 cities. London has the most cyclists – just 4% - but according to our survey, no one cycles to work in Hong Kong or Singapore and only 1% in Los Angeles. However, in Manchester 1 in 10 people walks to work – significantly higher numbers than elsewhere.
  • Globally, drivers enjoy their commutes significantly more than those using public transport, particularly in Sydney and Singapore, where over three quarters think driving to work is also good value for money. 
  • Sydney and Singapore are also top of the charts for their public transport systems, with commuters in these cities the most satisfied and those in Vancouver and Los Angeles, the least.
  • Almost three quarters of metro and light rail users in Singapore (74%) and Manchester (73%) think their systems are good value for money compared with just 40% of users in London. 
  • Climate change is an important issue for the vast majority of commuters but this concern does not translate to their transport choices. The results suggest that it’s only the cyclists and walkers who made a conscious decision to commute more sustainably. This is particularly true of cyclists and pedestrians in Vancouver, Sydney and Melbourne.
  • Almost three quarters of people in Singapore (74%) think their city is becoming better for cyclists and pedestrians, although only 3% of people actually walk to work at present and no-one appears to cycle.  This compares with only a third in Hong Kong where, again, only 4% walk and there are no cyclists. 
  • Most people around the world organise their lives so that they spend between half an hour to an hour commuting.  This is true of small cities like Manchester and mega-cities like Los Angeles.
  • Despite the increasing use of mobile technology and the changing face of the workplace, globally, only four out of 10 people sometimes work from home (41%). Interestingly, and perhaps reinforcing a stereotypical view, 68% of New Yorkers never work from home, whereas 49% of Sydneysiders regularly do so*.

WW+P founding partner Chris Williamson said: “We are passionate about getting people out of their cars and on to safe, efficient, comfortable and well-designed public transport.  The survey provides valuable insight into how people commute, the reasons for their choices, satisfaction levels with public transport and what they think about the way their city works, all of which will help us to design better transport infrastructure and improve the commuting experience.”

*The survey was carried out pre- COVID 19, which may prove to have a permanent affect on home-working patterns.

The survey was carried out in August 2019 via a questionnaire by DJS Research among a representative sample of commuters in each city.  We have been careful to ensure a balance of ages and gender. 200 questionnaires were completed in each city, a total of 2,000 worldwide.

Weston Williamson is an award-winning architectural and urban design practice with studios in London, Sydney, Melbourne and Toronto.  Our specialist knowledge and design experience, built up over 30 years, enables us to provide elegant and considered solutions. Our clients include HS2, Crossrail, London Underground Limited, and Docklands Light Railway along with many residential and mixed use clients. Our international work includes projects in Australia, Malaysia, Dubai and North America.