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Would improvements to public transport encourage drivers to leave their cars at home?

October 18, 2018 5:00 PM
By Gary Fuller in Folkestone Herald - Talking Points

Gary FullerI passed my driving test in 2015, having steadfastly refused to learn for many years, despite commuting to Canterbury for ten years from 2002. There were several reasons I chose to learn, even though it would increase my carbon footprint at the worst possible time and might cost more some months than getting the bus.

Given the choice, I would return to using public transport. For that to happen, various things need to change. Firstly, the cost needs to come down. While getting the bus made financial sense in the past, it doesn't now that my family are getting older. Buying bus tickets for a family, not to mention the cost of travelling by train or taxi, is increasingly prohibitive on a single income.

Getting to where I want to go, when I want to, is too hard. When I lived in Southend, there was a bus every five minutes that I could use to get to nearby towns. When I lived in Colchester twenty years ago, I could see how far away buses were, whether they were running late, and when they were due. That level of service should be the norm. Outside of major towns though, it simply isn't close.

Two of my family members are disabled. Both have so-called hidden disabilities. Getting a bus or train can be incredibly frustrating for them. This could be improved with more services, better facilities, training for drivers, and (sadly) a shift in attitude by other public transport users. Anyone with a disabled child who uses public transport will have a story to tell about experiencing prejudice.

Being able to get where I want to go, at a reasonable cost, knowing that the journey would be pleasant and predictable would almost certainly be enough to get me out of my car.