Press Story

  • Polling shows public transport more important than having a car, a phone or access to the internet
  • Four in ten (40 per cent) of those who drive regularly want to use public transport more
  • Those in rural areas or on low incomes seen as getting the worst deal from transport (a net score of -28 per cent for each)
  • Seven in 10 people (71 per cent) have changed how they travel to reduce transport costs in the last two years
  • IPPR says transport can be a vote winner and parties should commit to delivering a fairer, greener and healthier transport system

Emerging public attitudes towards transport in modern Britain have been revealed in a new survey, commissioned by IPPR.

Over half of the British public (53 per cent) think having public transport to and from work is a necessity and more than a third (35 per cent) say the same about public transport to see family and friends, compared to just one in five who see a car as essential (20 per cent). Public transport to work is also rated more crucial than having a phone (46 per cent) and access to the internet (43 per cent).

Following recent politicisation of transport issues, including the prime minister's rhetoric around a “war on motorists” and low-traffic neighborhoods (LTNs), the polling contrastingly reveals that 40 per cent of those who drive regularly, three to four times a week, would like to use public transport more than they currently do. Four in ten (38 per cent) also want the opportunity to walk, wheel or cycle more than they currently do.

While the public trust the Labour party more than the Conservative party on transport issues, neither is trusted highly. A third (33 per cent) trust the Labour party to improve public transport, compared to just 13 per cent who trust the Conservative party - but 55 per cent trust neither or don’t know.

Only 13 per cent of the public most trust national government to make decisions about transport in their local area, compared to 37 per cent who most trust their local council.

The polling also shines a light on the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on people’s transport habits:

  • Seven in 10 people (71 per cent) have changed how they travel to reduce transport costs in the last two years
  • Four in 10 people (42 per cent) are worried about being able to afford the transport they need to get around
  • Those who live in rural areas or on low incomes are seen as getting the worst deal from transport (a net score of -28 per cent in both cases)

Considering the crucial role public transport plays in people’s lives, and how much of an important issue it is for people locally, IPPR is calling on all political parties to make bold and ambitious commitments in their election campaigns this year.

IPPR recommends that parties, ahead of the next election, outline their proposed transport strategies for the UK and focus on delivering a fairer, greener and healthier transport system, which must include devolution of powers and funds to local authorities.

Stephen Frost, principal research fellow at IPPR, said:

“Rhetoric from the prime minister fabricating a ‘war on motorists’ over the last few months has been incredibly unhelpful. In reality, we know that even the most regular drivers also get on buses and trains and benefit from safer streets to walk, wheel and cycle. You’re not either a driver or a non-driver, in fact, most of us drive and use public transport as well as our legs.

“So it is crucial those in Westminster stop treating transport as a culture war issue and start delivering on the people’s priorities. This polling reveals those priorities as clear and simple, they want public transport that works for more people, and they want to make decisions on transport locally. The party that makes that offer the clearest will benefit at the ballot box.”


Maya Singer Hobbs, one of the report’s authors, is available for interview


David Wastell, Director of News and Communications: 07921 403651

Liam Evans, Senior Digital and Media Officer: 07419 365334


  1. The IPPR paper, Who gets a good deal? Revealing public attitudes to transport in Great Britain by Stephen Frost and Maya Singer Hobbs is available for download at:
  2. The survey was delivered by More in Common. It was undertaken online between December 12-14 (2023) with a sample size of 2,041 adults. The panel covers Great Britain (excluding Northern Ireland) and is weighted to be nationally representative. The data is weighted on several measures - age/gender interlocked, education, ethnicity, and region - all to nationally representative proportions. In addition, it is weighted by 2019 General Election vote (of registered voters)
  3. IPPR (the Institute for Public Policy Research) is an independent charity working towards a fairer, greener, and more prosperous society. We are researchers, communicators, and policy experts creating tangible progressive change, and turning bold ideas into common sense realities. Working across the UK, IPPR, IPPR North, and IPPR Scotland are deeply connected to the people of our nations and regions, and the issues our communities face. We have helped shape national conversations and progressive policy change for more than 30 years. From making the early case for the minimum wage and tackling regional inequality, to proposing a windfall tax on energy companies, IPPR’s research and policy work has put forward practical solutions for the crises facing society.