Sunday, June 01, 2008

Seismic Lifestyle Shift Needed

Yesterday I had to travel from London SW to Wallington Surrey but without
a car which was being borrowed for the week end. The Transport forLondon
website provided a plethora of public transport options. Tram 3 then 'bus 410
matched the time line requirements for the journey.

The tram was well used and alighting at Wandle Park for the 410 was straightforward.
The trams and buses seemed frequent and timetables reliable - one of the
legacies of Ken Livingstone's reign as London Mayor.

Bus 410 provided the revelatory part of the journey. The roads were crowded with cars presumably mainly travelling
on shopping trips to the nearby retail trading estates of Purley Way and IKEA. However the
bus was almost empty and there was hardly anyone at bus stops on the route, with the result
that the bus part of the trip was very quick indeed. The overall time for the journey
was only slightly longer than the average time taken by car.

The huge number of individuals using cars apparently mainly for local shopping
excursions, obviously helps to prop up the British consumer society but
at what expense to the environment? The nation's balance of payments?
Drivers' health? Personal cash flow? The huge rise in the price of fuel hardly
seems to have dented the nation's love affair with its motor cars - yet.

Local and national politicians need to consider whether having roads full
of personal cars and empty buses (slight exaggeration accepted) can or even should remain
a viable way for us all to live.

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