Sunday, 26 August 2012

Bamboozled By The American Dream

When Leyton Orient's football match with Hartlepool was called off yesterday because the visitor's coach was stuck in gridlock on the M11, an American (now living in the UK) joined in the discussion on Eurosport's website. This is what he had to say, and it's a refreshing view from one of our US friends......

The real tragedy is that the Brits don't realise how they've been influenced–and ultimately bamboozled–by the "American dream" of car ownership. As a Yank who has lived for years in the UK, I've been amazed by friends' and colleagues' willingness to sit in traffic–often for hours, the above being a case in point) when the train will drop them off at the door with less headache and angst. The argument that trains are more expensive doesn't hold, because when you factor in the gas/petrol, car park fees, the value of one's time which can be spent on the train catching up on reading or sleeping…driving, unless at least three people are going at once, just ain't worth it. The UK doesn't have the roads to support the number of vehicles on them and, unlike the US, you have public transportation that actually works. I bought a Beemer when I arrived and shortly thereafter got rid of it.

1 comment:

  1. By contrast 2 major sporting events took place in Cardiff yesterday. the Arriva Wales website has a permanent page detailing how to queue for your train at Cardiff Central, and an extended canopy is being considered as a permanent feature for the Millennium Stadium events just 400 metres walk (8-10 minutes) from the station.

    Typically 35,000 can be moved through the station when a big event takes place and during the Olympic football 19,000 were cleared in 2 hours. Even assuming an optimistic average of 3 passengers per car that's over 6000 cars and if each takes say 10 seconds to get clear of the car park/road space that means 1000 minutes for the last car to get cleared. That's 16 hours 40 minutes - if they all have to use just one route in or out, but even with 3 or 4 routes available that still adds up to a long time.

    Yet we never seem to learn - just look at Merry Hill Fosse Park etc and you'll see '000's of car park spaces, and when the sales are on everyone arrives to park at the same time ... and then leaves when the shops close - at the same time, result bedlam for a few hours and outside that a desert of sterile flood enhancing tarmac, which if it were a railway would be so uneconomic to provide and operate so inefficiently that it would be closed and ripped up.

    I'm seeing this increasingly as I tend to do most of my driving at night and can now be travelling up to 50 miles without seeing another vehicle going in my direction on major trunk routes like the M6 and A66. Only for very very short periods does every car in the locality come out to jam up the roads network

    Solutions might include actually building major journey generators like hospitals with an integrated train or bus station so that a substantial percentage of the 30,000 or more trips per day that the site generates will use public transport. If it is convenient to catch the bus then more people will do so and thus support more frequent bus services which makes it even more convenient to catch the bus - a clear virtuous circle to move forward with.