Tuesday, 20 September 2016

"I'd get the bus but...

there isn't a bus back after 6pm".
There was an opinion piece in this morning's paper which was very topical after the discussion I had with someone at the library yesterday. She isn't someone I know well but she chose to bemoan having to use her car to  go to work that day. There's a late meeting and she knows they won't be finished until well after 7pm so the bus is not an option. 
In the paper this morning someone was making very similar comments. She would like to take public transport but, from where she lives, there is none in the evenings. If she tries to take her car to a point where she can catch public transport in the evening there is nowhere to park her car. 
This city is built along the coast line. It stretches a long way north and a long way south and it comes up with a bump against the  sea in the west and the hills in the east. Obviously building does not occur in the sea. Some building does occur in the hills but there are problems with that too - not the least the fire hazards in summer and how to get people out safely and quickly if a major fire occurs. The other problem is that the city has, until this century, been built on the assumption that most people would own a quarter acre block with a single dwelling. That was fine when the population was small and people tended to work locally. Now people travel much further to get to work. They still expect to have a single dwelling  on their block - although some of the blocks are considerably smaller. Most houses are still bungalows but, gradually, there are more two storey dwellings. 
I am sure all this must look strange to visitors from many other parts of the world. Since we moved in here two sets of "duplexes" have been built in our short street. I have no doubt that when another house is sold in the not too distant future the same thing will happen. We are a comfortable commuting distance from the CBD.
But, we still have a problem with public transport.  The trains run only once an hour at weekends - and they are often almost empty.  People say, "If I just miss one I have to wait an hour for another one and if I take the car I can be home before then." The buses are much the same. If you don't live within walking distance of the station or stop you have to find a park or a safe place for your bicycle. (You can take your bicycle on the train but that leaves the problem of where you put it at the other end.)
I sympathised with the person moaning to me. She is one of those fortunate people who can read on a bus. Taking the car eats into her reading time. She tried an audio book in the car but prefers to concentrate on the traffic around her - a wise move. 
So I wonder about this public transport business. The government says they want us to use it but do they really? Is the lack of it and the lack of parking spaces really designed to stop people reading books? It's a thought. 

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