Getting people into public transport

Discussion in 'Renewable Energy & Energy Saving' started by RMCF, Jan 16, 2008.

  1. RMCF

    RMCF
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    Now firstly I have to admit that I drive my car to work each day (about 10mins). But there is no public transport available to me due to the time of the morning and my location.

    But I see in any local traffic jams (small compared to the UKs major cities) that many cars have only one occupant.

    So I wondered about how we could get more people into public tranport. A major consideration would be that it would have to be timely. People need to know if the timetable says 8:18 that the bus/train isn't going to arrive at 8:42!!

    But what about if it was free, paid for by Government?

    Do you think this would help at all?
     
  2. Pugs1

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    Nope, because like everything in life it won't be free. Period!
     
  3. Nimby

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    The major problem with public transport is tolerating close physical contact with our fellow bods. We distance ourselves naturally from strangers but public transport always ignores the problem. Fortunately I don't have to share my space with strangers. There is no local bus service and if there were it would be far more expensive per mile than the car.

    The inconvenience of trying to reach any local town by bus and back within one day's travel would make walking a serious option and cycling far more attractive. Though still tiring and uncomfortable. Perhaps the future lies with inter-town cycle paths with a rope or cable drive and a simple lift for the front wheel so one could relax on the journey? Ski-lift style.

    Hopefully electric cycles will get much cheaper, lighter and with serious range per charge. That is probably a far better option than an oversized, slow, smelly and noisy black smoker bus. From distant memory I have used a bus only tree times in twenty years. I feel no shame for having avoided them.
     
  4. LV426

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    One problem is fare levels. For one person in a car, taking all motoring costs into account, it's only marginally more costly than using public transport for a typical commute; in some cases its cheaper. When you have two or more people travelling (eg for leisure) there's no contest. Car wins for the individual in all respects.

    The evidence from South Yorkshire (which, for those who don't know, had massively subsidised and hence very cheap at the point of use, public transport until the late 80's) has been a massive decline in usage. And there has been, unsurprisingly, a corresponding massive decline in the number, and in some cases more importantly speed, of bus services (by which I mean, withdrawal of very fast express services out of the city to the suburbs).

    On that basis, to revert to a fare level which was (guessing) about 75% subsidised, 25% paid for with your ticket, and attendant service improvements, would see a return. However what's not clear to me is the extent to which the damage is done - how many people who have migrated to cars or started out using cars would use such a service.

    Regardless of any debate on the "green" rights and wrongs of motoring, there is the matter of congestion, which continues to worsen. And the entire public transport industry, both the now privatised operators and public bodies like PTEs, in my experience, only ever seems to make its product of worse quality and more expensive with every "service revision" that happens, in other words, appear to be doing nothing to encourage us out of our cars.

    For interest, in fact, modern buses which are built to Euro 3 and, better, 4, emission standards are not at all "smelly" nor "black smoker". But they are, sadly, in the hands of an industry which appears unable to recognise where its true competition lies - and that's not in the other-coloured bus company down the road.

    As for trains - there are more passenger journeys on the railways in this country now than at any time in the past - including the "halcyon" days of a comprehensive network and trains as long as a long thing...... And the government's thinking seems to be shifting towards terms like growth, investment, opening..............(so long as users pay for it!!)
     
  5. Corey USA

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    If they could keep the buses full to capacity then they could reduce the fares. Its because of the low capacity that the fares are so high. the high fares pays for the empty seats
     
  6. johntheexpat

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    The mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, overcame this in the late 70's with London transport. He had a public transport system that was running almost empty, losing money hand over fist and spiralling downwards at an alarming rate. 'Red Ken' took all this and basically said every journey is a flat fare of 10p on the buses, a bit more on the Underground. The right wing went absolutley nuts. They were furious that someone could take a loss making organisation and reduce its income even further. Still to this day he is loathed by the right in the UK.
    The public rather liked the idea.
    The buses ran almost full. Almost all the time.
    The tube became a favourite method of transport for the majority. It wasn't great because of underinvestment but it was cheap and effective.
    Thatcher was always called the queen of supply side economics, but 'Red Ken' was the person who really REALLY understood.
    Buses that were expensive and empty and making a loss became buses that were cheap and full and profitable
    Tubes that were expensive and empty were cheap and full and also turned a profit.
    It can be done, but you someone with vision, knowledge and a mandate strong enough to take the eyebrow raising decisions.
    Red Ken has one big advantage when it comes to doing this kind of thing. He cares more about what he believes in that his career. Most politicians believe only in their careers and therefore don't have the guts to do anything radical. Thatcher was probably the only other recent example in UK politics who could claim that.
    It also helps that when red Ken believes in something radical, he is usually right and ahead of the game (Congestion Charge in London is another example).

    Expect a huge torrent of vitriol now from the right wing, Ken is evil and how dare I compare Maggie to him?

    Problem is, he 'daft' ideas work (in the environmental arena, sometimes his other ideas are plain daft tho')

    So yes, public transport can work.
     
  7. LCR_Dave

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    on the other hand there are people who pay thousands a year for there car, insurance, tax and i for one want my moneys worth! im an electrician so i need a van too so public transport is a no no for me but you get my point, :smashin:
     
  8. Stephen Wilde

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    Can you refer us to anything that confirms the facts as regards London buses and the Tube ? Your summary doesn't seem to fit my recollection but I really can't recall the details well enough to comment.

    The congestion charge is another issue. There does seem to be a problem for businesses within the zone which are losing custom and revenue but I'm not sure how serious that problem is.

    Whatever the facts the position in a dense Metropolitan area is always better for public transport than anywhere else.

    I remember the Tube as being a very popular method of transport in London since the 1950's when I was often taken there as a child by my parents to visit relatives. It was clean and safe in those days as well as cheap. The buses were full and cheap then as well. There were also trams but they were dangerous for pedestrians and other traffic with very unsightly cables everywhere.
     
  9. johntheexpat

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    fare reductions to confirm there was a price drop. more details as and when I come across them.
     
  10. johntheexpat

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    Admittedly these are the man's own words, but I can't remember anyone successfully calling him a liar.

    'The statistician George Stern recently conducted a detailed survey of passenger usage on London Transport between 1959 and 1986. His figures show that between our fares cut and the abolition of the GLC, fares were reduced by 35 per cent. This generated a 70 per cent increase in passenger miles, with a resulting increase in fares revenue of 11 per cent.'


    This is from this article


    I hope that goes some way to answering your query.
     
  11. phil t

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    The problem is that when you get outside the cities and large towns, public transport often isn’t a viable option. An example, the place where the wife works is in a remote location. She can drive from home to work in less than 20 min. She would have to take two train journeys and a cab ride (with a total journey time of over an hour) to get to work using public transport. On days when she needs to drop the little one off at nursery, she couldn’t get into work on time using public transport.
     
  12. maxf

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    I had to travel to Manchester for a meeting (from London). for two of us to travel by rail, the cost was around £350 - by car it was closer to £50 - maybe £60 if you include insurance, tax, depreciation etc.

    Outside of London public transport is expensive and, in many cases, unreliable. People will work around a degree of unreliability if the cost is right - perhaps allowing commuters to claim back public transport costs as a tax deductable expense would begin to tip the balance? Although our wonderful PM would need to make up the lost tax revenue from somewhere else, and the cycle continues.
     
  13. LV426

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    Agreed. I don't believe for one minute that public transport will ever offer a viable alternative for every journey by every person.

    Focus needs to be on encouraging people who make journeys which either are, or realistically could be, provided by public transport to do so. Suburb <> City Centre commutes are the obvious and major examples.

    For such journeys, sadly, it's not recognised that journey speed/time will be a major factor as well as cost. Operators and public bodies seem to view fancy bus shelters and low-floor buggy friendly vehicles as all that is needed. What they don't seem to appreciate is that, if a journey can be made in (say) 20 minutes by car, yet takes an hour by other means, that alone will put the majority off.
     
  14. Stephen Wilde

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    Thanks, I've had a look into this now.

    He did reduce fares, increase usage and increase revenue. Unfortunately it was no more profitable. In fact an increase in local taxes was required in order to raise subsidies.

    On it's own that might have been the right thing to do in a city situation. Ufortunately it came at the same time as a whole raft of other less desirable and more expensive proposals which all taken together were about to screw the local taxpayers unacceptably. That is why it was stopped by central government. There was a risk of such high spending damaging the prosperity of the city as a whole and therefore in due course harming the poor as much as the better off.

    As usual a relatively small part of the population bears the taxes or opposes state spending because of the huge number employed by, or in some way dependent on, the state. That is even more the case in cities where the relatively less well off tend to congregate in order to try and improve their life chances. That is why on paper people who support high state spending tend to get more support in urban and especially city areas.

    Not quite what Our Ken would like everyone to believe and not really a party political issue, more an issue as to how far a city can be helped or hindered by centralised bureaucratic initiatives.
     
  15. Member 79251

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    I don't own a car and I don't see me owning one either.

    I think one of the reasons that public transport suffers is that we mainly only sit at the front. I was in Madrid a few years ago and they have a system that the bus driver only drives the bus and nothing else. He don't issue tickets you have to swipe/punch yourself on via a ticket system. You also get on the front and off at the back. That makes a flow of people on the bus and takes away that anti-back chair thing.

    My monthly bus ticket went up this month to £50.00......I get 2 months free. I don't think I could run a car for that price these days.

    I once went from Spain to Belfast via Manchester and Liverpool Airport all done with public transport. I think it was 4 Airports, 2 taxis, 2 planes, 1 bus and 1 train.
     
  16. johntheexpat

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    He initially raised local taxes to rovide a subsidy, nobody denies that, being stated quite clearly in the article.
    Please justify your dismissal of it as 'no more profitable' while acknowledging an 11% increase in revenue, a 35% drop in fares and a 70% increase in passenger numbers.
    Your opinion is fine, but definitive pontifications along the lines of 'it was no more profitable' in the face of contrarian evidence really do need to be backed up.
    (Something along the lines of audited accounts showing revenue up 11% and costs up 12% would do just fine)
     
  17. Stephen Wilde

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    "The Government can take heart from my own experience when, back in 1981 Labour won control of the Greater London Council, which was committed to cutting fares in order to get people out of their cars and back on to public transport. In the election, we had been quite honest and clear in saying that we would increase domestic rates by up to pounds 1 per week per household in order to pay for the cut in London Transport fares."


    The above extract is from the article you linked to.

    As far as I know Public Transport in London has never been profitable, always subsidised.

    If Ken made it less unprofitable by reducing fares and increasing revenue then why would he need more from the domestic rates (as the local taxes were then known) ?

    An increase in revenue does not necessarily translate into a profit or a reduced loss if more expense is incurred handling increased numbers. If it did he should have reduced the extra subsidy when the position became clear but did he ? An increase of 70% in passenger numbers for only 11% revenue increase would normally entail a reduced profit or an increased loss depending on the starting position.

    Do you actually know that the increased revenue did lead to a profit or a reduced loss ?
     
  18. ad47uk

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    I wish more people would use public transport, most of the buses I see in our city are empty and then they have to be subsidised by our council.

    but I can understand why people don't use them, the bus from my place to town costs £1.10, which is about a mile and half if that and people won't pay that. Mind you with the traffic jams, I bet people use more than that in petrol.

    I don't drive, I normally walk or cycle, I only use a bus for long distance.
     
  19. oakie

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    another one here who doesn't drive - i ride a bicycle. living in an area that has zero cycle ways i can see why a lot of people would be put of riding a bicycle.
    more dedicated cycle ways on a local level and wider ranging connecting town to town & city etc would be a plus for me and other cyclists but would it get people out of cars i don't know.
    We seem to have such a car centric culture now here in the UK it leaves me feeling that even top class alternatives still wouldn't get people out of their cars.:(
     
  20. ad47uk

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    i know what you mean about cycle paths, very poor here, we got a main one that goes from one side of the river to te other, but to get to it you have to ride on busy roads to start with.

    Oh yes I agree with you about getting people out of their cars, it will never happen.
     
  21. Corey USA

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    The cost of oil will get people out of their cars. Due to simple reality economics. You can only work so many hours in a day and if your wages can not cover for the cost of the fuel then you will seek alternatives. As long as politicians and companies continue to fix prices to be low vs demand, people will continue to drive.

    You drive price up then you drive less. It comes down to how much your willing to pay in money value to keep your "conveniences."

    Here is a personal indirect example that I think people can relate too: I don't buy certain foods anymore due to the fact the prices have climbed to a point I simply can not afford it anymore due to limit in income
     
  22. ad47uk

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    People will just get smaller cars, cars that are more economical, but they will not give them up. If some people have to give up their cars, then they will have to give up work, I know a few people that live out of town and the car is the only way they can get in to work. So if they have to give up their cars, they will give up work, so that will be more burdon on the country benefit system. Public transport out of town is useless around here, you may have a bus to some places, twice a day.

    Take a lad that works with me, he lives in the countryside, his shift finish at 2.30pm, then he have to wait until 4.30pm for a bus. I said he should get a scooter, then at least he can get home within 30 mins.

    Now tat would get on my nerves and if I was in his situation I would get a car, I would learn to drive and get a small car.


    As for food, my opinion is that I work and I will have what I want, what is the use of working and you can't eat what you want to eat?

    Once again, you are living in Dreamland, people will not leave their cars.
     
  23. Nimby

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    There are very many older cars on the road already. With rising fuel prices I wouldn't be surprised if pensioners and those on lower incomes simply choose even older cars. A number of my colleagues use scooters and bikes since they live nearby. I feel sorry for them every time it rains or winter cold strikes. There is no real alternative to a car for comfort, range and protection from the elements. Allowing any dress code, year-round, with impunity. Heavy loads can be carried for any distance. Waiting times are limited to sitting in complete comfort in traffic while others brave the weather in misery. Buffeted by wind, rain, traffic noise and fumes. It would be hard to imagine any alternative to the car which provides so many advantages. Except perhaps for the lack of exercise.

    The car does need a serious rethink. I provides vastly more power than anybody needs. It has to be much heavier and requires far more powerful brakes and heavier gearboxes and suspension to cope with high speeds while offering total comfort and safety to only one occupant. We are constantly brainwashed into thinking that power is everything. Now the roads and carparks are clogged with family minibuses containing only the driver. Alternative thinkers of the past were the complete opposite and insisted on noisy scooter engines to drive a mobile mini-greenhouse on wheels. Where is the middle ground in vehicle design? A simple, ultralightweight town vehicle with small efficient four-stroke engine and seating capacity of two + shopping?
     
  24. Stephen Wilde

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    The lighter and/or smaller a vehicle is the more dangerous it is for the occupants. People still need larger, faster, safer vehicles for longer journeys
     
  25. Glenn Uk

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    My personal view is not far from that of nimby, basically the individual will not move over the public transport when they have their own private vehicles.

    some of course will due to cost/time issues, i suspect that large scale migration wont be affected until or unless there is a legislative reason.

    In respect of Corey's proposal that oil prices will dictate, when the cost of fuel in the UK (at least) is comprised mostly of tax then it is more likely that tax changes will affect a shift not the price of oil, or indeed alternative fuels.

    Cost will no doubt be a factor in some cases, bit like the congestion charge now, those who can pay do, those who cant go around or find another means of transport. i don't see the issue being largely different for car ownership and use of public transport.

    I have in the past been guilty of using the 'there is no effective public transport' argument, however, in truth i haven't actually investigated, id rather drive my wifes car or ride my motorbike (all year round i might add).

    The answer is legislation to stop car ownership IMHO, whether red ken has the balls to go this far remains to be seen, i don't see any other party doing this, the impact on the economy would be devastating as things are today i suspect and whatever the benefits to the environment the political fall out would be significant. maybe one day the conditions will be right.

    I think the only other reason why large scale migration would take place is if private transport became unviable due to grid lock but public transport was assured (eg like the bus route on the m4, which incidentally it think motorcycles can use too!!!)

    Edit as an aside to this, i spend a lot of time in the middle east, Dubai to be precise, despite cheap public transport the roads are absolutely packed with travel speeds worse than London i suspect (subjective view based on personal experience of driving round he city) and there is a new metro system coming there. The government have a different attitude to western democracies and it wouldn't surprise me if they legislated to force lower paid workers onto the metro system. Simply to keep the roads clear for those who could afford it. This may seem a wild idea, but they effectively legislate based on earnings and status in a number of areas, visas being one case in point.

    Glenn
     
  26. phil t

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    Smart Car?

    :)
     
  27. Glenn Uk

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    He did say plus shopping though and i dont know about the size of your weekly shop but .......:D
     
  28. phil t

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    Wasn’t there a trial where you had even and odd number plates on cars? You could only drive an even number plated car (in to the trial city) on certain days, and odd number plated cars on other days. The idea was that you reduced the number of cars in the city (on any given day) by half. The only problem was that the rich had two cars.

    How do you decide who can/can’t have vehicles?

    :)
     
  29. Glenn Uk

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    Phil

    i have heard of such trials i believe, in Italy maybe?

    Anyway my thoughts were of a more radical nature IE private car ownership being outlawed full stop.

    There may be other solutions which would not allow for the sort of shenanigans you highlighted and be fair to all, but I'm not sure i can think of any right now.

    I suspect that even if we find a fuel which causes no damaging emissions, H2 comes to mind (which is probably low emission rather than no due to the presence of lube in the engine at least, fuel impurities if any) that car ownership as we know it has a limited life span due to the issues of congestion.

    On the other side of the coin, the revenue generated as a result of the reliance on the humble internal combustion engine makes the choices pretty difficult to resolve.

    Reducing the cost, increasing the user friendliness of public transport' reliability are all issues which may attract a percentage, but my feeling is that we have grown used to our own little bit of personal transport and wont give it up easily.

    Glenn
     
  30. Stephen Wilde

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    I fear that the motor car is so intertwined with every aspect of our daily lives that preventing people from making their own personal decisions will have fundamental and unpredictable effects on everyone.

    For one thing there would have to be a mass movement of workers back to living in cities thus reversing all the trends of the past 100 years. Back to huge dirty overcrowded cities and a depopulated countryside.

    The infrastructure changes required to effect such a change would be hugely damaging to the environment in themselves.

    Better to encourage small families and control immigration to achieve a slow and managed population decline.

    Total emissions reductions would follow naturally from such a policy.

    Population is the key.
     

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