These numbers show why commuting in London isn’t as bad as you think

Harriet Green
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Some comforting news for those of us who live in the Big Smoke.

Londoners have the shortest commute to work in the country - travelling an average of just 11km to get to work.

According to new data from the Office for National Statistics, which compares 2001 census numbers against those from 2011, when the UK’s average commute was 15km. (In 2001 it was 13.4km.)

Of course, much of London commuting is via the tube, or another form of public transport - and for many, that might make it feel quite a bit longer than getting in your own car.

Then there's a study from the ONS earlier this year that shows commuters are more likely to be anxious, unhappy and think their lives lack worth and meaning.
If you commute for under three hours a day, you feel slightly worse with each minute that passes. Oddly, though, once you’re past that point, the negative effects begin to wane.

Which brings us onto the next nugget from today's figures: the longest commute in England and Wales burdens those in the East of England - at 17km - taking in much of the capital’s commuter belt.

Source: ONS

The news that more of us are travelling further to get to work, or that more of us are working from home, comes as little surprise. But just how far and how much are those who live in the East of England but work in London (so may well get a double whammy in terms of varieties of transport used, or just length of time spent travelling) willing to go and pay?

We’ve done a rundown of the latest annual season ticket prices and train journey lengths for some of the main and favourite commuter towns in the East of England:

Norwich to Liverpool Street (just under two hours) - £8,432

Cambridge to King’s Cross (roughly an hour) - £4,536

Ipswich to Liverpool Street (around one hour 15 minutes) - £6,000

Bedford to Zones 1-6 (between one hour 15 and one hour 30 minutes to Waterloo) - £5,256

Hitchin to King's Cross (between 30 and 45 minutes) - £3,616

Bury St Edmund's to Zones 1-6 (one hour 30 mins to two hours, with one change) - £7,324

A good deal for managers?

Whereas in the rest of the country, professionals and managers travelled further, on average, than everyone else (20km or more), that isn’t the case in London, where those holding those roles have, like other Londoners, a shorter commute.

Moreover, the difference between professional and other occupation groups wasn’t so noticeable in the capital, where skilled trade workers were most likely to commute 20km or more.

The “other” category

This is people who had no fixed place of work, were working outside the UK or on offshore installations, and it more than doubled over the ten years, to £2.2m.

That means those workers accounted for 8.4 per cent of the workforce in 2011 - from 4.7 per cent in 2001.

Although the census doesn’t provide conclusive reasons for why this is changing, the rise in remote working, entrepreneurial and small business activity, and increased flexibility of travel could be given as contributing factors.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this group grew by the most in London, rising from 5.6 per cent to 11 per cent in 2011. The South East saw the second-highest rate of increase, at 8.9 per cent.

Source: ONS