UK motorists turn frugal

I received an interesting email today – a rare thing for a Monday morning – a set of stats on how motorists are attempting to become more environmentally friendly. How lovely, I thought, that the UK’s drivers aspire to be green. But, of course, this isn’t really about being an eco-warrior at all, it’s all about trying to save some cold hard frugal cash, and good luck to them I say!

According to the exciting annual used car survey by British Car Auctions, vehicle auctioneers, rising petrol prices and the credit crunch are forcing many drivers to change their ways. 38 per cent of motorists surveyed are already leaving the car behind to walk more, ostensibly to cut their carbon footprint (is it just me, or are you sick of that phrase now too?) but really to save on petrol. And 30 per cent of drivers surveyed said they plan to cut their mileage down to save fuel. Half of motorists also said they would consider buying a vehicle that does more miles to the gallon, while a fifth said they would switch to one with lower maintenance and service costs. And most telling of all, only 28 per cent are considering buying a car in the next 12 months, compared to 47 per cent who said it was unlikely or that they definitely won’t be shopping for a new motor. Worries about vehicle excise duty are also driving the UK’s motorists to become greener.

Everyone is feeling the pinch at the petrol pump, along with the rising price of everything else, so it’s hardly a surprise people are making changes. Interestingly, it was the wealthiest drivers surveyed that planned to implement the most green changes – possibly, it’s suggested, because they have the option to downsize their vehicle, whereas poorer drivers might not.

But public transport isn’t getting any cheaper either. Down in London the new mayor, Boris, is taking a lot of flak after announcing that he is hiking tube and bus fares in the capital. And no doubt we will all see the usual inflation-busting train fare hikes in January all over the UK that we see most years.

Fittingly we took part in a raft race on the Thames in Twickenham yesterday. Well, I say we – yours truly played official photographer and valuables holder while DJ and our friends James, Matt and Emma bravely took to the ocean waves in a raft they made that morning from laminate flooring, tyres and er..about three rolls of duck tape.

They came first in their heat (ultimately beaten by a team of people dressed as the Simpsons) and managed not to sink the thing, which, frankly, impressed me most. A viable alternative mode of transport? Who knows! It’s worth a try.

Has the credit crunch changed your approach to motoring? Have you given up your car? Are transport costs out of control? Or have you always preferred walking everywhere anyway? Leave a comment and let me know.

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12 Responses to UK motorists turn frugal

  1. Christine says:

    Now, now Piper lack of research. There are supposed to be some good offers on the river taxis on the Thames before you start sounding off about London Transport – tut, tut she says laughing. You should also investigate the Oyster card in and around London.Up here in North East we have plenty of weekly and day rider tickets that will cover you all over Northumberland (anywhere in county for £6 on a day ticket and there is a good bus network or £22 for a week – both on Arriva which takes you from Newcastle to Berwick – fine if you are single and there are also family day tickets for the holidays). It is certainly not always cost effective to jump in your car to go to work anymore without first investigating public transport.I think that people just jump on the bus on a one off short journey and have no perception that actually if you use the bus regularly there are a lot of good offers round most of the country. Likewise if you use the train booking system in advance you can come up with some decent offers for trips. Don\’t think that train season tickets are a good offer anymore though. Interestingly I\’ve met people who run their own boats to work if they are close to a waterway and out of London. Likewise you see more people with fold up bikes commuting into cities – more by train than by bus as there is a lack of space for even fold up bikes on the buses. Long distance – if you have the time and are just going for the holiday travel National Express buses still have some excellent offers. One that students will know well I suspect. People should be more willing to investigate all means of travel to work in particular if they are just one person in a car. It may be that the car is the only way to go but it\’s worth looking and investigating.

  2. robert says:

    LPG is a good, cleaner and cheaper way to run a vehicle.I converted my car two and a half years ago at a cost of £1600.It has payed for itself already. I pay half the price of petrol.LPG has 33% less CO2 than petrol and 45% less than diesel.63% less Carbon Monoxide.I think people worry about running out and getting stranded but you still have petrol, the car starts on petrol then switches to LPG.Forget the train. Way too expensive and unreliable, I must have had hundreds of hours wasted waiting for trains when I was a student. My wife has to get the Train from Bristol to London quite often. She pays well over a hundred pounds to stand up, I\’ll never get on another Train in this country.Buses? You must be joking. For local journeys I cycle.

  3. piper says:

    Hello Christine,
    Foldup bikes are a good idea. They don\’t come cheap though. An old work friend has one that cost him about £450 – probably works out cheaper in the long run than getting the bus though.  I do have an Oyster card – of course!  But I was thinking more about DJ\’s season ticket into London which costs him £3,000 a year. Luckily he can get an interest free loan from work to pay for it though.  Our local buses aren\’t cheap though. I don\’t often use them but 15 min journey cost me £3 the other day.
    How difficult is it to convert to LPG, Rob? Could you do it with a Micra?

  4. roger says:

    for an island our public transport should be second to none.far from it  the railways are still a joke and buses well routes still get the chop not the way forword if the target its to reduce the no of vehicles on the road. lets face the facts this country is far from wealthy and change is never gonna happen the way government would like or leads us into believeing possible. if government continually needs to borrow money from the private sector to fund projects its says to me we cant afford them and should look at different ways

  5. Gwen says:

    I don\’t think public transport is expensive. I have started leaving my car at home to walk into the office each day (3 miles) and then I catch the bus back home at the end of the day. If it\’s absolutely pouring down I catch the bus both ways. It costs £10 for a weekly ticket and for this you can travel on any Stagecoach bus for any distance or any number of journeys in the Manchester area. Considering that I was paying about £15+ per week for petrol I think this is very good value for money. It has so many other advantages besides being cost-effective. It obviously keeps me fitter and keeps my weight under control; I can sit in traffic jams and read my book instead of having to constantly change gear, it saves wear and tear on my car, and also of course I am doing a bit towards the environment and it\’s one less car on the road in the rush hour.

  6. fathma says:

    I think everybody should try cycling whenever they can as well as saving fuel and money you\’ll get fit.

  7. JAMES says:

    hi rob well about LPG I made enquiries about having my Mondeo converted and I was told it cant be done now the car is only 7 years old I found that hard to swallow what do you think

  8. JAMES says:

    also I used to fill my car up every week now I only do so once a fortnight and only when the needle hits the half way mark and because I am on incapacity benefit I only use the car once or twice a week, where I live there is not much in the way of public transport although local peoplewould dissagree still one does what one can to save

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