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In the UK, women make 30% more bus journeys than men per year

Our Data Snack series takes a visual approach to the world’s most important transportation insights. Understand the newest trends so that you can make your next transit decision with confidence.

Via Transportation •

🚌 Transport systems are a key driver of social equality — and UK bus ridership data has some troubling implications. According to 2019 National Travel Survey data, in the UK, women take an average of 56 local bus journeys per year, while men take an average of 43: a striking 30% difference. In addition, trip distance for women is 21% longer than men — on average, each woman travelled 52 miles more than men on their bus journeys every year.

The costs of these trips add up: one 2018 international study found that carers, who are statistically more likely to be women, spend an additional £20-£37 ($26-$50) per month on transport. Carers’ trips, like escorting kids to school, going to the supermarket, and accompanying elderly relatives to doctors’ appointments, are less likely to be conveniently served by transport networks designed around commuting patterns. Many journeys involve multiple legs and long transfers. 

Women were also more likely to cite safety concerns as a reason they were hesitant to try new transport options. Half of the women surveyed in a 2004 UK Department of Transport study said they felt insecure taking a train, waiting at a bus stop, or walking to the bus stop. The UK government estimates that a safe environment would encourage 10% more passengers, especially women, to use public transport. In short, women spend more time and money on public transport than men — perhaps because networks aren’t designed to meet their needs — and feel less safe while doing so.

Read on to learn more about how our public transport systems impact women and ways to address these gender gaps in the broader transport landscape.