Are commuters now back on the move in your area?

Alex Clark
·2-min read
Working from home guidance has been relaxed in England 
Working from home guidance has been relaxed in England

The UK government is now leaving it up to employers to decide whether to re-open offices in England - but initial data suggests working from home is by no means over for most employees.

Monday marks the first weekday since the rollback of England’s work from home guidance, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced last month: "We're going to give employers more discretion and ask them to make decisions about how their staff can work safely.”

As employers eye re-opening offices, most cities saw an uptick in congestion through Monday morning compared to lockdown, according to data from location technology specialist TomTom. 

Excess travel times on average rose 35 per cent on the lockdown average today across roads in twenty five cities in the UK, suggesting the daily commute is back again for at least some.   

Yet roads are far emptier than at the same time last year, with the extra time taken for a journey in these cities still 56 per cent below their average for 2019. 

Some cities have seen a new rush hour emerge, with roads more clogged up at around 11am instead of the traditional peak and sharp drop off around 8am.

In fact, in cities such as Bournemouth, Middlesbrough and Sheffield, roads were more  congested in the late morning than they were on average at the same time last year.

The only city out of the 25 for which TomTom provided data for that has seen a return to the classic 8am peak of the morning commute is Hull. 

Roads in two cities placed back into lockdown on Friday - Manchester and Bradford - still remain traffic free today, and Leicester, the restrictions of which were extended last week but are now beginning to ease, has yet to see a major uptick in congestion. 

Even Preston, which was not included in Friday’s restrictions but is just west of locked down Blackburn, has yet to see road congestion return, perhaps due to commuters living outside its borders now facing the north west restrictions.

Elsewhere both the Scottish and Welsh governments are still advising employees to work from home where possible.

In London the Tube saw 240,000 journeys this morning, up 6 per cent on last week, but again, that remains down 75 per cent on the same time last year, according to figures from Transport for London. 

Buses are proving more popular in the capital however, with 560,000 journeys this morning, down 53 per cent on last year. 

See how congestion in your city compares in the table below.

How commuting compares in your city
How commuting compares in your city