The increase of employees working from home is thought to be the main cause of the quickening commute times. Other factors reducing commute times include better traffic management by government and local authorities, the use of alternative transport and greater use of flexible working by employers, the TUC says.
Using figures from the Labour Force Survey (LFS), the TUC has calculated that Ã‚Â£339m worth of working time is spent travelling to and from work every day.
The TUC analysis found that the average time spent commuting to and from work increased each year from 1998 to 2006, reaching a record 52 minutes and 36 seconds in 2006.
Since 2006, average commute times have decreased every year by four minutes and 48 seconds, falling to 47 minutes and 48 seconds per day in 2008 (the latest year that times are available), which is the lowest level since records began ten years ago.
TUC General Secretary, Brendan Barber, said:
“After years of increasing journey times, it’s great to see that the number of hours spent commuting to work is finally falling.
“UK employees already work some of the longest hours in Europe so it’s doubly annoying to lose even more precious spare time stuck in traffic and packed on trains on the way to and from work. Our analysis shows that flexible and homeworking doesn’t just benefit individuals and their employers. If more people are allowed to work from home we can make the daily commute shorter and more pleasant for everyone.
“We know there is still plenty of untapped demand for flexible and homeworking. And with commutes still costing a staggering Ã‚Â£337m of working time every day, there’s plenty more money and hours that can be saved by smarter working practices.”
Work Wise UK Chief Executive, Phil Flaxton, said:
“Thousands of employers are already seeing the benefits to themselves and their staff by implementing a smarter working policy.
“Policies such as staggering work journeys, homeworking, and encouraging cycling and walking, are enabling staff to get to work in a better way and in the process saving time and money whilst improving health and wellbeing. Now, being green and commuting smart have never made more commercial sense.