Go-Ahead Future of Travel


At Go-Ahead we’re on a mission to better understand our commuters, with a view to improving their wellbeing and overall health. We believe the key lies in people embracing ‘active travel’.

Active travel means making journeys more physically active, like walking to the shops, walking the kids to school, cycling to work, or running to the station to catch a train. It’s proven to be beneficial for both mental and physical health, and fits in with your normal daily routine. Also, with fewer cars on the road it’s got the potential to be a major force in combating declining air quality and climate change – two of the biggest challenges of our time.



Together with an academic researcher and active travel innovators, RunFriendly, we’ve conducted the first research study of its kind. We surveyed over 850 commuters to focus on the smaller journeys they make either side of their primary mode of transport, often known as the ‘first and last mile’. We wanted to know why our commuters may or may not choose to travel actively so we can better understand how we remove the barriers that get in their way.

Based on what we discovered, we’ve developed a handy field guide that describes how 21st century commuters choose to get around. Can you see yourself in any of them?


The traveller who sees the commute as an opportunity to get active. Running, cycling or walking to and from their stations or stops, helping them feel great and those around them, feel guilty. This group enjoys a better quality of life, improved fitness, enhanced wellbeing improvement and some extra cash in their pocket as a result of their active travel.

One study found 78% of cyclists felt happier and more energised after cycling all or part of their journey.

Another study found the NHS could save £17bn within 20 years if short car trips were replaced with active travel.

Physically fit staff tend to perform better at work and have more positive attitudes in their tasks and towards colleagues.


With complete round the clock devotion to their new addition, these parents have no time for their old exercise routines. Priorities have changed and home time comes first. However, the commute offers a seldom opportunity for ‘me-time’ and with it, a welcome opportunity to exercise.

For new parents, active travel can be an extremely welcome and rare opportunity to exercise.

One study finds that children influence the cycling habits of parents, especially the daily travel of mothers.

Active travel can be an enabler to regaining pre-parenthood fitness levels for new mums and dads.


These guys engage in active travel without even realising. Walking at their own pace, in their work attire to and from their stations. They’re unaware of the health benefits their walk offers and how a few tweaks such as changing into trainers for the walk could unlock greater physical and mental wellbeing.

61% of walkers feel they could be more active.

Active commuting can offer the ideal way to meet World Health Organisation guidelines of 30 minutes moderate intensity activity, 5 times a week.

This can significantly reduce the risk of many serious physical and mental illnesses.


They’re the first to admit their travel choices might not be the most conscientious – but convenience wins. Whether it’s to the station or work, driving themselves or getting a lift, these guys are all about minimising effort. They know they’re being lazy, but they don’t feel compelled to change.

One study found that these commuters are the least aware of the health benefit that can come from active travel.

Switching to more active modes could help reduce the 40,000 deaths attributed to outdoor air pollution in the UK.

Drivers who park at train stations tend to form more commuter based friendships than others.


We take our hat off to these folks. Often travelling in excess of 4 hours a day, their commute takes serious dedication. With such a distance to cover, any increased time for active travel doesn’t really get a look in, as to do many other things they may rather be doing.

One study found the aspects of negative commuting disappear on journeys of 3 hours or more.

Commuters travelling for 3 hours or more each day are most likely to use the journey to think about their day ahead.

These commuters tend to work from home more often than others.


From builders to engineers, retailers and hospitality workers – these commuters spend all day on their feet. The commute starts early on the near empty services, and their day is physical enough, without the need to further strenuous activities added to their journey. Active travel therefore, is a low priority for these guys.

Working physically demanding jobs, daily tiredness makes active travel a big ask.

On average, these commuters are 10% more likely to miss their stop.

Irregular work patterns can make active travel impractical.



Download our Future of Transport report to discover more of our in depth research and insights into behaviours and perceptions of active travel, together with other compelling research findings within the world of active travel.





To find out more about active travel and how we’re working to make journeys more healthy, happy and environmentally friendly please get in touch.

Aisling Lawless
PR and Communications Manager, The Go-Ahead Group