A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46



1. In August 1942, the Wartime Social Survey made an inquiry into the ways in which working people travelled to work and whether they had any difficulty with transport.

The Ministry of War Transport asked for this inquiry to be repeated during the winter months in order to measure the seasonal changes and changes arising out of the transport restrictions which had been found necessary.

The present inquiry covered three main subjects:-

  1. (i) The methods of travelling.

  2. (ii) The time taken over the journey.

  3. (iii) The extent of dissatisfaction with transport and the reasons for this.

2. If the comparison over time was to be valid it was important to keep the samples comparable and except for those changes which reflect the changing composition of the working population, this has been done.

No attempt was made in the August inquiry to compare results in the different regions. Since, administratively, the Ministry of War Transport has to deal with regions they asked that regional comparisons should be made this time. This presented certain difficulties because of the size of the sample which could be taken at the time. Adequate representation of the twelve regions in which the Ministry of War Transport was interested would have necessitated a sample many times larger than the sample on which the present study is based, and for this reason attention is here drawn to the actual composition of the regional samples which make up the total picture. So far as is possible within the limitations of numbers in the regional samples the different industrial groups are correctly represented but these proportions should be carefully studied before use is made of the regional results.

In order to secure the necessary minimum of interviews in the smaller regions the sample in the field had to be unbalanced as between the regions. That is to say, over and above a sample representative of all occupation groups extra interviews were secured in those regions where a representative proportion would not have given an adequate number of interviews. The total involved in the regional breakdowns is therefore greater than the total in the other group breakdowns. The weighted totals of the regional figures and of the representative sample however showed no differences.

3. Interviewing was carried out at the place of work during January, 1943. Sample details are given in the next Section.

In our previous survey a close relation was observed between the answers to two main questions - “How long does the journey to and from work take?” and “Are working people satisfied or dissatisfied with their present mode of travel?” The present survey therefore centres around these questions.


1. Nearly two thirds of the workers interviewed were using Public Transport against 53% in August 1942. The greatest use of public transport was made by clerical and Heavy Manufacturing workers, the least by Transport and Public Utility workers.

2. 29% of the sample took over half an hour to get to work against 22% in August and 23% took less than 15 minutes against 39% in August. The occupations with the highest proportions of long journeys were Heavy Manufacture, Light Engineering and Munitions, building and clerical workers.

3. Nearly 34% of the sample expressed dissatisfaction with their method of getting to work. Dissatisfaction had nearly doubled since August and the increase in dissatisfaction was greatest amongst users of Trams, Trains and Buses in that order. There was much less dissatisfaction amongst those who walked or cycled. The sharpest dissatisfaction was amongst Miners, Light Engineering and Munitions and Heavy Manufacturing workers.

4. Dissatisfaction was greatest in South Wales, North East, South and South West and North West regions.

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