Figures from the RAC have suggested that around 60% of drivers would be willing to swap their cars for public transport, but only if the services were better.
However, the figures also showed that 33% of drivers also say they are now more dependent on their cars than a year ago – the equivalent of 13.2m motorists, up from 27% in 2017.
The survey of 1,808 drivers found that almost a quarter (24%) claim a deterioration in public transport services is the reason for increased car use. Respondents blame a lack of reliability (44%), higher fares (39%) and cuts in local services (33%) for choosing their cars first.
The RAC called the figures “alarming” and urged the Government to do more to make public transport affordable and accessible to help reduce dependency and tackle air pollution and congestion.
Commenting on the figures, David Bizley, the RAC’s chief engineer, said that while officials have spoken of creating better public transport links, in reality little has been done to improve services.
“Our research clearly shows many people don’t think public transport offers a viable alternative to the car for their needs, especially those living in more rural areas,” he explained.
Mr Bizley added: “People end up driving by default as they feel public transport is either too expensive, non-existent or just doesn’t go where or when they need it to.”
The annual RAC Report on Motoring, which is in its 30th year, was released last week and also found that 59% of drivers would use their car less if public transport improved, an increase of 5% from last year. This is compared to 11% of respondents who said they wouldn’t.
The RAC says it encourages motorists to make small everyday changes to their lifestyle to help cut car use and reduce congestion and pollution.
This could include walking or cycling when making local journeys, or even swapping one longer car trip every week for a bus or train journey.
Commenting on the research, Xavier Brice, CEO for Sustrans, the walking and cycling charity said: “With the UK’s air pollution a daily headline, there has never been a more important time to shift short journeys away from cars towards healthy, clean alternatives such as getting around by foot or on bike.
“The research by RAC is a reminder to governments at all levels to take urgent action and prioritise the development of safe and high quality walking and cycling routes, alongside engagement programmes, to enable more people to walk and cycle.”
RAC Report on Motoring