Is it the end of the line for public transport as we know it?
Is it the end of the line for public transport as we know it?

 

We’re slowly heading out of lockdown in England (depending on where you live) and the last few months have changed the way many people think, act, work and behave.

 

A recent study by market research company, 7th sense and the Loop Agency has shown the general public has had a major transport rethink and shift in behaviour as a direct result of COVID-19. Could this be good news for the future of the motorcycle industry?

 

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Driving the future

 

In a follow-up study to last year’s ‘Driving the Future’ survey, 7th Sense Research and the Loop Agency have again surveyed 3,000 people to see how COVID-19 has affected public transport and the future of mobility. The result of part one of a trilogy of transport studies by the firm shows that although there has been an expected temporary shift in public and personal transport use (furloughed staff/working from home etc.). Car use in urban areas is down by 25% and the general feeling is that the effects will reshape the future for many drivers and commuters – long after the pandemic is over.

 

 

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70% are cautious about using public transport

 

  • 60% of large city commuters (that’s commuters in large cities rather than large commuters in a city) are rethinking the way they get to work
  • 70% remain cautious about using public transport in the future.
  • 40% of existing motorbike owners in large cities are planning to use them more.

 

It’s quite refreshing to hear that lots of riders who simply got out of the habit of riding to work (or were worried about crime) have got the bug again during and after lockdown and realised it really is the best way to commute. 

 

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Sales surge

 

Cycle sales, electric bike sales and the demand for scooters are all surging. 12% of large city dwellers are interested in bikes over 125cc, as opposed to mopeds. If that 12% converted to sales it would see the current bike pool almost doubling. The knock-on effects of that will see demand for bike training, servicing, aftermarket parts and hopefully a little more consideration for us from town and city road planners. 

 

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Public transport

 

The survey also showed that public transport use will suffer across all sectors (bus, coach, taxi, Uber, trains, trams, tube) by around 40%.

 

  • Almost 50% of season ticket holders are unsure whether they’ll renew next time.
  • 19% gave a definite ‘No.’

 

A £750 million loss for rail

 

The cost implications for Transport for London (for example) are huge. They stand to lose £600 million if 36% of their revenue is lost and the rail industry could lose £750 million. This comes at a time when the controversial HS2 is likely to blitz through our countryside at a cost in excess of £106 billion pounds. Is it really a time to be ploughing on regardless with a speedy rail system that is only likely to benefit a very small minority of the population?

 

Conclusion

 

With more people likely to continue working from home (where possible), and commuters being afraid to take public transport, the travel (and working) behaviour of millions of citizens will change – possibly forever. The need to make more space for cars may well be offset by less physical commuting thanks to home working/virtual meetings. Whilst the growth of commuting by socially distanced and convenient bike or scooter (as well as cycles/eScooters) will affect funding, planning and the way public transport firms are funded, franchised or run in the future.

 

In part 2 of this three-part study, 7th sense will be looking at the financial implications of this ‘New World’ and how it’ll affect transport planning for future generations.  

 

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