When Ro started his new job, he intended to travel to Norwich by bus each day. There’s a service every hour. Within the first couple of days, he knew he wouldn’t be able to stick to it.
This morning, he left the house at 7.12, for a brisk 15-minute walk to the bus stop, which is 1 1/4 miles away. The bus will have left at 8.30 and reached the bus station in Norwich at 8.25 for him to reach his desk at 8.30.
Tonight, he’ll finish around 4.30, catch the bus at 5, and get home about 6.30 – it often leaves late, though there’s never an explanation.
Contrast this with the car. Leave home 7.55, be at his desk, after walking from the car park, at 8.30. Leave work at 4.30, be home, allowing for traffic, before 5.15. That’s a difference of two hours per day…ten hours every week of time wasted.
He quite appreciates that the bus has to take longer, but what he can’t understand is why every bus meanders through the villages, where it neither takes on nor drops off any passengers. It comes from Halesworth, and almost all people get on in Yagnub and in Poringland – all on the main road. Why, he wonders, is there not a commuter bus that goes direct?
At least, I’d said before he started, he wouldn’t have the stress of driving in rush-hour traffic. But he says that the buses are cold and uncomfortable and he can’t relax anyway. Yesterday, the company sent a coach, and it was quite a pleasant contrast.
It isn’t even cheap. Buying a daily ticket is £4, and a season ticket would work out at £2.80. He reckons the petrol would cost £3 per day, even at over £1 per litre, which is what it costs now. At present, he’s looking for someone to carshare with, but otherwise his employers will let him have a parking permit and he’ll drive himself.
It seems to me that those in charge, while extolling the benefits and virtues of public transport, actually don’t have much regard for the people who use it. They think that it’s only for pensioners (who don’t pay), children and the poor, none of whom, they think, matters. The only thing they can think of is to impose congestion charges and higher car park charges, while not addressing the actual reason people don’t want to use the bus.
I have long believed that all people who are in charge of running the country should be obliged to use public transport. Not just in the major cities, where buses, trams, the underground, are the obvious ways to get around (not, I suspect, that they do), but everywhere. No chauffeur-driven car to pick them up from the railway station. No allowances made for the amount of stuff they have to carry, nor for any disabilities that do not qualify them for a disabled parking badge. We’d soon have an excellent public transport system which people would actually use.