Sunday, March 29, 2009

Green emotional twaddle about public transport

Now I know the Greens worship public transport as a religion, associated with the railway obsession. It is based on the notion that it is better to force people to pay for others moving than to let people face the real costs of the transport choices they make. Forget the environment or the economy, because the truth of the environmental impacts of subsidising more public transport doesn't bear close scrutiny - after all, those buses and trains spent a lot of time sitting idle or running nearly empty in the counterpeak direction.

I'm more concerned about this nonsense from Frog Blog:

"I used to drive to work along a route that encompassed urban streets, motorway and rural roads.

It was a journey of fear.

Almost every day there was a dangerous road-rage type event. Other drivers tailgating so close you couldn’t even see their headlights, people coming straight from the motorway on ramp on to the fast lane, so I had to brake heavily to avoid a collision. Other drivers changing lanes without indicating."

Car commuting in New Zealand a journey of fear? Oh please! Try driving in Cairo or Beijing! One wonders if frog was such a bad driver that the tailgating was from people sick of the driver sitting in the fast lane and not moving over. Changing lanes without indicating? Yes, it's rude but that's it.

Then this "Life is all about making connections. It’s vital we increase our capability to make those connections." Well yes, but why the hell should I have to pay for your "connections"? If you live, work and play in different places, why don't YOU pay for how you get there? Isn't the most green option NOT using transport at all?

"It’s a strange world indeed when your plane ticket is cheaper than the taxi ride to the airport" No, it is what happens on a long taxi ride for a short flight on a competitive route. Planes are public transport after all. Presumably when you next fly First Class to London, you wont find the taxi ride price an issue.

Then the Greens get into how wonderful public transport is: "Smart people already know the economic and environmental benefits of public transport, but there’s also an emotional pay-off. Instead of driving to work seething with righteous anger at the stupidity of one’s fellow motorists, one can let someone else do the driving, relax with a book or newspaper and feel part of the community, rather than shut off from others."

Yes, that's right. Someone else driving (though virtually never from your origin to destination), relax with a book, if you're not standing and feel part of the community, sitting beside strangers, people who don't bathe, people sneezing. Riding public transport is "being part of the community" now. Virtually everyone on public transport would rather get a taxi ride, than undertake this experience. It's the same on planes. I'd rather be in a Singapore Airlines Suite cabin than sit in cattle class with "the community".

Most people treat public transport as a necessary evil, when driving isn't available, cheaper or faster. It is tolerated as the best choice given alternatives. However, if driving is cheaper and faster, most prefer its flexibility, door to door service and comfort, and get to know the community by their own means.

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