The Best Commuter City in the UK

Commuting to work has been the norm for many years. But of course, in 2020 the global pandemic struck, changing everything. Millions of workers who had once set off to work on trains and buses switched to working from home, with commutes quickly vanishing all over the UK. However, things are now starting to transform once again. 

Recent data has revealed a considerable uptick in the number of workers who are travelling to work. Figures released by Statista show that, as of September 2022, 66% of adults were travelling into work, compared to 57% the previous year. 

While some dread the daily commute, for others it can provide a boost to their wellbeing.

In this article, we’ll suggest some of the best cities for commuting in the UK, based on research compiled by the VBQ Speakers team. The team’s analysis covers a range of factors such as pollution levels, traffic density, average commute times and the availability of green urban spaces.

The benefits of a good commute 

Few of us look forward to a daily commute, but incorporating a short journey into your daily routine can provide a range of benefits to our wellbeing. 

In a recent article published by People Management, UCL academic Professor Joseph Devlin, explains how the commute can positively impact cognitive performance, wellbeing and productivity. 

Devlin explains, “The commute delineates boundaries between home and work life and can be used to switch one off and transition to the other. Just going to work generates more diverse experiences than working from home, especially through interactions with other people.” 

A daily commute can also provide significant health benefits. It gets people moving first thing in the morning, and unlike a planned session at the gym it’s very difficult to wriggle out of it if energy levels are lacking.

Data released by RunRepeat shows that the return to the daily commute has led to an exercise boom, as commuters tend to be on their feet much more than they would have been if they continued to work from home. Workers heading back into the office have also proved more likely to incorporate an exercise class or a run into their daily routines, because they tend to pass gyms and leisure centres as they head to and from work. 

The best city for commuting in the UK, based on VBQ Speakers research

Since the daily journey to work can have such a significant impact on people’s lives, we wanted to find out what UK cities are more or less likely to have pleasant commutes. 

So we created a ranking based on factors such as pollution levels, proportion of people without cars, average commute times, time lost in rush hour, traffic density and green urban spaces, giving each factor a score out of 10. These points were then used to calculate an overall score. 

Of course commutes can vary within cities, and different people have different preferences, but hopefully this analysis provides interesting food for thought.

Based on our research, the top-rated UK city for commuting is Southampton. Runners up include Glasgow and Leicester, with Bristol following closely behind. 

Here is the full ranking of the 20 best cities for commuting in the UK:

  1. Southampton: 7.43
  1. Glasgow: 7.17
  1. Leicester: 6.82
  1. Bristol: 6.62
  1. Coventry: 6.59
  1. Stoke: 6:46
  1. Bradford: 6.37
  1. Newcastle: 6.23
  1. Nottingham: 6.17
  1. Cardiff: 6.10
  1. Liverpool: 6.05
  1. Sheffield: 5.90
  1. Leeds: 5.83
  1. Birmingham: 5.69
  1. Manchester: 5.36
  1. Derby: 5.33
  1. Belfast: 5.19
  1. Hull: 5.13
  1. Edinburgh: 4.83
  1. London: 2.92

Methodology: We collated the following information in top 20 biggest cities in the UK: Pollution levels, proportion of people without cars, average commute times, time lost in rush hour, traffic density and green urban spaces. 

We then scored each one out of 10, which then equated to an overall score of 10.