How has COVID changed the Liverpool commute?

Since the COVID-19 pandemic struck in March 2020, the volume of commuters travelling into Liverpool each day for work has fallen – but by how much? Tony McDonough reports

Cars, traffic, road, emissions, highway, transport
COVID has seen a reduction in the percentage of commuters coming into Liverpool by car


There are now fewer people commuting into Liverpool city centre each day for work than before the COVID pandemic, new data shows.

Research commissioned by renewable energy firm, Project Solar UK, reveals the percentage of employees commuting into the city centre has fallen from 93% in March 2020 to 86% today. Given the number of people still working from home this fall is lower than some may expect.

There has also been a decrease in workers surveyed commuting by car with figures from the study showing 56% before March 2020 compared to 51% now. While driving is still the most popular form of transport for commuting, the survey revealed that 9% travelled by bus, 2% cycled, 9% got the train and 14% walked.

It also showed 18% of people in Liverpool surveyed travelled less than one mile to work on the commute, 20% travelled one to two miles, 22% travelled between two and five miles, 16% travelled between five and 10 miles and just over 2% travelled more than 40 miles to get to work.

Before March 2020 fewer people surveyed (13%) commuted less than a mile to work and more (4%) made a journey of more than 40 miles on their commute.

Liverpool City Council’s £47m Liverpool City Centre Connectivity scheme which is seeing a transformation of the city centre road network with the aim of increasing journey times and cutting congestion. It also aims to encourage people to consider swapping their cars for public transport or bicycles.

On the waterfront, the Strand duel carriageway is undergoing a £22m ‘eco-friendly’ upgrade. Untouched in its design layout since the 1950s, the 2km-long, four lane road is often gridlocked at peak times and has become a hotspot for road accidents. Lime Street is also undergoing an £10.5m upgrade.


The Strand
The Strand in Liverpool is undergoing a £22m upgrade


Project Solar’s research also asked respondents about their attitudes towards reducing carbon emissions and pollution from transportation. Three in five workers surveyed in Liverpool agreed that they wish there were an easy way for them to offset their carbon emissions from commuting to work.

And 53% of workers said they would be interested in buying solar panels for their house to offset their carbon footprint caused by their commute. Almost half (46%) agreed*people should buy solar panels to offset their carbon footprint.

The Energy Saving Trust estimates the average UK home with a solar PV system installed could reduce carbon emissions by 1.3 to 1.6 tonnes per year depending on location in the UK.

1.3 tonnes of carbon emission is equivalent to the amount of CO2 emissions that come from using 536 gallons of petrol  or charging 607,904 smartphones. A standard solar PV system in the UK will avoid 39 tons of carbon dioxide over 30 years which is equivalent to a medium-sized petrol car driving 90,000 miles.

Simon Peat, chief executive of Project Solar UK, said: “Commutes have dropped in the past year and over half (54%) of workers surveyed in Liverpool agreed that given the choice, they would choose to work from home to reduce their carbon footprint through not commuting.

“We are witnessing a surge in interest in using solar panels in the home to help reduce  carbon emissions as Liverpool residents seek out  ways to look after the environment.”

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