Business leaders in the region have called for more 'creative' ways of easing traffic, rather than just throwing money at the problem.

The request, made by members of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, comes as new figures revealed small business loses £2 billion a year due to poor transport provision.

The cost to small firms is 40 per cent more than a year ago, according to Bibby Financial Services.

Nearly two in five small company bosses believe they are losing up to £10,000 a year because of poor transport infrastructure and six per cent estimate their annual loss is more than £10,000.

More than 20 per cent of small company staff have missed important business meetings through traffic congestion - a two per cent increase on the survey results a year ago.

A total of 12 per cent of small firms have suffered staff lateness due to poor transport infrastructure, while nine per cent have lost a big order because of transport problems.

And ten per cent of small businesses have lost key members of staff directly because of increased transport costs or a lack of public transport.

Although the majority of Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber members thought more money needed to be invested in the transport network, many said the problem only exists during peak hours on weekdays.

Stephen Docherty, policy officer at the chamber said: "We all know, anecdotally, that rush-hour congestion is eased during school holidays which suggests there is more to the problem than the state of the network.

"While businesses welcome more investment in the transport system, many feel that this is just a short-term solution.

"As a business community we would like to see more creative ways of solving the problem.

"If there is a way that we can encourage people to drive at different times or share transport - or walk, cycle or use public transport that would be a massive boost.

"That's not to say we don't want investment in the road network - we absolutely do.

"Locally, the Western Relief Road in Rugby is being built next year and there is consensus that this will have a very positive effect on the town.

"There also needs to be investment in public transport to get people out of their cars but that will require a massive culture change in Coventry and Warwickshire not just investment."

According to the survey by Bibby, two in five companies said fuel prices had the single biggest negative effect on their success.

The number of owners and managers listing fuel prices as the biggest transport burden has risen by 18 per cent in the last year.

David Robertson, chief executive of Bibby Financial Services, said: "Effective and efficient transportation underpins all businesses. The state of the country's road and rail network is particularly important for smaller businesses as they are more likely to be working within the realms of the UK and from more remote locations outside of London.

"A package of initiatives to tackle the long-standing transport problems is a must for the future success of the entrepreneurial culture of the UK."

Federation of Small Business transport chairman Steve Collie said: "It's disappointing that the small business community still has to struggle to work within a cumbersome transport framework.

"Problems such as traffic jams, railway cancellations, and never-ending road works impede the day-to-day running of businesses and the negative impacts are likely to manifest themselves in the long as well as short-term."