Lockdown: Transport Use Falls Dramatically

The UK saw a huge drop in the amount of traffic on its roads and public transport network during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown.

According to new statistics published by the Department for Transport (DfT), all forms of transport used by the public fell dramatically – except cycling, which saw a significant rise in uptake.

The UK’s official lockdown was announced on 23 March, when the prime minister instructed people to work from home if possible, avoid meeting anyone outside their own households and reduce the number of times they left home.

Although the amount of people using roads and railways had been steadily falling since early March, the day after the lockdown announcement resulted in the most significant drops seen.

Transport immediately after lockdown

The DfT found that 24 March – the day after lockdown was announced – saw just 44% of the number of cars that would typically be driven on an equivalent day on UK roads.

That day, the UK saw only 20% of the expected number of National Rail passengers and just 9% of Transport for London Tube passengers.

Only 22% of the expected number of passengers travelled by bus in London, while the national figure for bus passengers stood at 17%.

Throughout lockdown

The numbers of people using all forms of transport continued to fall during the lockdown period.

Rail passengers were the least likely to return to their usual form of transport, with National Rail and London Tube passenger numbers repeatedly at 4% of an equivalent period in previous years.

Those travelling by bus were also far less likely to travel. The number of journeys taken fell to just 10% of those expected on four separate days in April.

Motorists were more likely to travel than those using public transport – likely due to the ability to socially distance in a private car. However, two days during lockdown saw just 23% of the typical number of cars on the roads.

The rise

April saw no more than 40% of the usual number of cars out and about. From May, however, the amount of motorists on the roads began to rise steadily. May ended with 67% of expected car traffic, while June ended with 73%. The roads saw 90% of the usual number of motorists on 7 September, the most recent statistic provided by the DfT.

The number of people using public transport has also been increasing. An average of 33% of the expected number of train passengers outside of London returned in the first week of September, while that stood at 34% in the capital.

There are even more bus passengers returning, with 58% the usual number on London buses on 7 September and 54% nationally.

What about cycling?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the limited opportunity to maintain distance on public transport, the UK saw a huge rise in the numbers of bicycles on the roads. People were turning to two wheels to commute and keep fit while gyms and other fitness centres were closed.

At the peak of the rise, on 9 May, 384% of the expected number of cyclists ventured out. In total, there were nine days between April and June that saw more than 300% the usual number of bicycles on our streets.

While car traffic is continuing to rise as children go back to school and adults return to the workplace, the number of people cycling is remaining higher than on equivalent days prior to 2020. On 6 September, the figure stood at 177% of an equivalent day.

With the sharp rise in the number of cyclists across the UK and the amount of other traffic returning to normal levels, there is likely to be an increased risk to those more vulnerable road users. If you’ve been involved in a road accident that wasn’t your fault, you could be able to get justice.

To find out how First4Lawyers could help you make a claim for compensation, just give us a call, request a call back or start a claim online.


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