Sunday, 3 March 2013

The vexed issue of public

transport came under discussion at the meeting I attended yesterday. Our public transport system has never been particularly good or user friendly.
There are a number of reasons for this. One is the size of the population, especially relative to the area the system needs to cover. Another is the state's reliance on the car industry and the perceived need to support it by owning a car. Another is the belief (in some places) that we do not really need public transport and it will not get used "because most people own cars". 
In the course of the conversation I mentioned how someone had recently said to me that there needed to be a rail line between a fast growing area and the city. Much of the line is already there. The government owns the land and it would be a cost and time effective alternative to the buses and private cars now used to get people into the city. It would be cleaner and greener.
It won't be done. Politics will prevent it. No political party is going to risk upsetting so many unions and interest groups.
I mentioned we also need to have a line going much further south to cater for other commuters. There needs to be a short spur line going to a hospital - something which would solve many problems. The line going north also needs to be reopened, along with a loop into a tourist area with a fast growing population. We had these things once. They were closed. The argument was that it was too costly to keep them running. The reality was, and still is, the government wanted people to use cars - and people have become used to using cars. It is convenient to walk out the door, get in the car and go somewhere without worrying about timetables and whether the train or bus or tram will get you there on time.
Oh yes, all this was discussed yesterday. Most people at the meeting use their cars all the time. Some people have not used public transport in years. They would not know how to use it. Some of them have not used it since conductors were taken from buses and there were still guards on the trains willing to sell you a ticket. 
I have never had a licence to drive a vehicle and neither has someone else who was also present. We looked at one another and smiled. There was no need to say anything. We both know that, when public transport is running as it should, we both get knitting and reading done.
Just imagine how much more people would read if they had to use public transport - or even just wanted to.

No comments: