The travel choices and needs of low income households - the role of the car

Car use by low income groups was explored using 15 focus groups and 44 in-depth interviews with people selected from the UK National Travel Survey. The focus groups showed strong attachment to car use by people in a range of different circumstances. Drivers tended to use cars for the majority of their regular journeys, except where access to the car was shared. Car use was very habitual, and there was limited evidence of people weighing up different transport options. People found it difficult to estimate how much cars cost them, but car costs were treated as essential and non-negotiable. Public transport was not regarded as a viable option. The people interviewed fell into the categories of default car users, flexible car users , and default alternative transport users. The financing and payment of the running costs of cars are outlined. Where the full range of car costs was taken into account, cars were sometimes viewed as costing similar amounts to public transport, or in some cases, being cheaper. When presented with the scenarios of a decrease in household income or an increase in car costs, people reacted quite differently, with a decrease in household income being more of an immediate concern than increasing petrol costs. Road pricing scenarios had a more pronounced effect on people's responses. the impacts identified in response to the scenarios included the need to cut back on essential or non-essential household costs, more careful planning of car use, or no longer having a car. Car use had a direct impact on employment, social networks, activities regarded as important to mental health, and independent mobility. This may account for the high level s of car ownership amongst low income groups, despite their considerable cost. A key challenge is for the UK Department for Transport to apply policies aimed at reducing the negative impacts of car use without aggravating the transport disadvantage of low income groups.

  • Corporate Authors:


    LONDON,   United Kingdom  EC1V 0AX
  • Authors:
    • Taylor, J
    • BARNARD, M
    • NEIL, H
    • CREEGAN, C
  • Publication Date: 2008


  • English

Media Info

  • Pagination: 62p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01125245
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: TRL
  • Files: ITRD
  • Created Date: Mar 30 2009 6:56AM