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Top tips: 10 ways to cut your commuting costs

Top tips: 10 ways to cut your commuting costs
One top tip is to opt for flexi train tickets if not commuting on a daily basis. Photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas/Getty

Soaring transport and fuel prices are adding pressure to already squeezed household budgets as commuters face tax rises and surging bills.

Rail fares in England and Wales saw the biggest rise in nearly a decade and London’s Tube and bus prices went up around 5% on 1 March in yet another blow to commuters.

As the UK's cost of living is rising at the fastest pace for 30 years, here are ten top tips from consumer group Which? to help save money on commuting and transport.

Get a railcard to save a third on train travel

Railcards are an easy way to save money on rail journeys. They cost £30 and will typically reduce costs by a third.

There are nine types on offer and commuters should check eligibility criteria for each card. Remember some can't be used for certain journeys during peak times on weekdays, but these restrictions don't apply to weekends or bank holidays.

Join a car-sharing scheme

Commuters who normally drive to work could consider carpooling with a colleague or neighbour to cut costs on fuel.

Fuel costs could be halved by joining a car-sharing scheme and there could be bigger savings to be had if there is a larger group heading the same way each day.

According to one car sharing site, sharing a daily commute could save users over £1,000 per year.

If you are not commuting daily, opt for flexi train tickets

Those in England who do not make journeys every day should consider buying flexi train tickets. These can save part-time commuters hundreds of pounds a year compared with daily returns for those commuting two or three days a week.

Which? looked at the numbers and found that commuting from Bromsgrove to Birmingham New Street for two days a week costs £729.60 over the year with flexi tickets. That’s 46% less than a £1,344 annual season ticket.

Read more: Top tips: How to save money on fuel costs

Book tickets in advance

Booking train tickets well in advance of travel makes it more likely to find a cheaper deal.

Most train companies release a set number of reduced-price "advance" tickets up to 12 weeks before — and some go on sale even earlier. Set up alerts through a train operator to receive emails when advance tickets go on sale for a particular route.

Which? found advance tickets for a journey from London to Leeds for £30, which is 87% cheaper than the cost of an anytime single ticket. Just bear in mind that advance tickets are usually non-refundable and are often only valid for a specific route and time.

Consider ‘splitting’ train journeys

When travelling by train, splitting the journey — or "split ticketing" — can often save money, particularly on longer routes.

Instead of buying one single "through" ticket, travellers can buy multiple tickets to cover the component parts of the journey.

Which? found that it’s possible to save £22 on a ticket from Glasgow to Manchester by splitting the ticket at Preston.

Try walking or cycling

Walking or cycling, where possible, can completely erase the cost of fuel or public transport.

It’s also possible to save money on the cost of a new bike with the Cycle to Work scheme. Depending on salary, the scheme can save cyclists up to 40% on the value of the bike. For example, using the scheme to purchase a bike worth £400 could save up to £168.

Read more: UK rail fares up 3.8% in biggest rise in nearly a decade

Cut the cost of your MOT

While the government sets a maximum test fee of £54.85 for car MOTs, service centres often run half-price deals. Motorists should check what’s on offer in their area before booking.

Search around for the best fuel prices

Before making a long car journey, it is worth filling up at the cheapest station possible.

Petrol at supermarket pumps is typically a few pence cheaper per litre. Petrol is also generally cheaper in towns and cities than in rural locations. Motorists can also search online for the cheapest petrol stations nearby.

Save money on parking

Apps such as AppyParking help drivers find free parking in local areas, while Parkopedia shows the cheapest nearby car parks.

Motorists could also try renting private driveways to save money — apps like Just Park show nearby drives available to rent which could be cheaper than a multi-storey car park.

Get better-value breakdown cover

Signing up to a breakdown service can massively reduce costs when a breakdown happens. Going without it completely could leave drivers hundreds of pounds worse off in pay-on-use fees and premiums than if they’d had a policy to begin with. It is also worth opting for a policy including home start (or equivalent), as most breakdowns occur at home.

Watch: How to save money on a low income