London bus

Only a quarter of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK say they can rely on public transport.

According to research from vehicle leasing specialists Lex Autolease, just 26% say their locations are well served by current services and that they provide a convenient option for business travel.

The study of more than a thousand UK SMEs, conducted by YouGov, found that vehicles are crucial for a high proportion of companies, with almost half (49%) saying private transport is important to running their businesses and over a quarter (29%) saying they could not operate without them.

More than one in five SMEs (22%) said their business locations are poorly served by public transport links. When asked what would happen if they were forced to rely on public transport for day-to-day business travel, 44% said they would be less efficient and 31% said it would cost them more money.

The notable exception is London-based firms, two thirds (66%) of which said public transport was a convenient option for business travel in comparison to just 19% of firms in the North and 12% of companies based in the Midlands. According to the research, being able to work on the move is seen as the main benefit of public transport, cited by 55% of the businesses who said they preferred using it to private vehicles.

Simon Barter, head of SME direct at Lex Autolease, said: "Although an increasing amount of company activity can now be done remotely, travel remains a key part of business life, whether that's to build key relationships through face-to-face client meetings, visiting customers or conducting site visits.

"Firms need a reliable, convenient mode of travel to handle those day-to-day demands and keep their workforce mobile."