Taking public transport instead of driving to work makes people happier, study suggests

Walking to the bus stop or station and then relaxing while travelling appears to help to make people feel better

Taking public transport instead of driving to work appears to make people happier and helps them to sleep better, according to a new study.

Researchers reported that car commuters were 13 per cent more likely to feel they were under constant strain or unable to concentrate.

It is thought that the exercise taken to walk to the bus stop or station and then the relaxation while travelling helps to make people feel better. A previous study found switching from a car to public transport helped people lose weight and become healthier physically.

Academics from the University of East Anglia studied 18,000 workers in the UK for the research, which was published in the journal, Preventive Medicine.

Lead researcher Adam Martin told The Daily Telegraph: “One surprising finding was that commuters reported feeling better when travelling by public transport, compared to driving. You might think that things like disruption to services or crowds of commuters might have been a cause of considerable stress.

“But as buses and trains also give people time to relax, read, socialise and there is usually an associated walk to the bus stop or railway station, it appears to cheer people up.”

He added that improvements to public transport, including improving cycling, could actually have “noticeable mental health benefits.”

The journal article said: “These results appear to suggest that avoiding car driving may be beneficial to well-being.

“This view complements existing evidence of a negative association between driving and physical health and is consistent with the hypothesis that car driving, a non-passive travel mode that requires constant concentration, can give rise to boredom, social isolation and stress.

“However this view is also consistent with the hypothesis that intrinsic enjoyment is gained from the exercise or relaxation associated with active travel.”