December 29, 2016

Particularly lovable public transport

I have traveled quite a bit over the years for work and for holidays, study and cultural exchange. Note that I have probably planted enough trees in my life to balance this activity’s carbon spew quite nicely. (Pity that the people who bought our last house lopped out all the trees that had been planted to make the house neatly solar passive!  Well, such humans do exist in the world of neat and tidy cactus and pebble creations.)

What I have noticed strongly throughout the world is the public transport, particularly in South East Asia (Singapore and Malaysia), Hong Kong, London, Paris and Zurich.  Now add Puerto Vallarta, Mexico to that list, because, despite the unlicenced, rickety, noisy and bottom wrenching quality of their buses, they are always used by the locals, keep thousands of cars off the road and seem to go everywhere I ever want to go.  Oh, and they are cheap. They are my top pick for public transport as in every other place, far higher ticket prices are charged, Mexican rates being 5.50 pesos per major section.  Mini buses are used to access areas with narrow roads or smaller riding population.  There is scarcely any graffiti on the bus line though they are old vehicles and very clapped out. This is because the people regard them as their own property and have some respect for the drivers as well.  It is an unwritten law to give way to buses and pedestrians at all time.

For sheer perfection, the underground in Singapore wins with its suicide proof glass door system and its system of ticketing, allowing unlimited rides for one fee as does the Hong Kong train/bus combination. You can take separate ferries to connect with the New Territories.  In Zurich, they add boats to that one-ticket mix and it is as efficient, adaptable and flexible as a Swiss Army knife – once you have figured out how to open it!  Most forms of public transport in these countries are an excellent way of exploring the cities and you really can’t get lost.  Public transport maps are always available and you can easily just get back on the bus/train/boat/tram in the opposite direction.  The nice thing is that as you are riding on something that is not requiring a personalized allocation of carbon as it would have been running anyway.


In Australia, we are perched somewhere between anti-public transport snobbery and wanting more buses, trains and trams.  Thus, buses will be almost empty out of peak hours.  I LOVE public transport.  You can read a book or relax.  A great saving of carbon.

A huge problem in Australian cities is the lack of cross-routed forms of transport and the fact that the systems do not yet talk to each other.  To buy one ticket that fits all would be marvelous and the government really should be training the next generation to rely on that system and use it rather than buying cars.  Aussies need to learn how to shop fresh and local each day (cutting down the lugging of groceries that is so hard by public transport), use wheelie suitcases, briefcases, shopping trolleys etc. to save arms and backs, and get used to wrangling umbrellas and raincoats in wet weather.  As life in Australia is seeing major cities spread their borders to a nightmarish sprawl of 1/5 acre blocks, public transport is being strained.  It is a shame that so many rail lines have been left to rot in rural areas as a move to decentralization (something America has done really well) would be preferable to the maxing out of urbanization.

All that is logical, isn’t it?

What are you thought about your local public transport? Need improving or you prefer to car pool? What options are available as well when travelling?

Let us know!

Images by konr4d

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  1. I love public transport. As you said, not only do you reduce your carbon footprint by using it, you can catch up on all that reading you need to do.

    It is actually quicker to catch public transport in Melbourne during peak than to drive from my town. Amazing stuff, yet still more than 75% of commuters prefer to drive. Crazy, I reckon.


  2. That Eastern Freeway is particularly nuts. Cost a heap too but at least they put in a bike path this time (and some particularly wacky sculptures!) People watching is good on a bus too…

  3. I agree with you Gavin! I have attempted to drive to work in Richmond from the outer east area a couple of times and not only is it time consuming (and what feels like time wasting) it is just boring to sit in traffic!

    I used to take the bus on the Eastern Freeway which had bus lanes all the way into the city and it was a breeze! I could read a book or look out the window and be actually moving unlike the traffic which just sits still. Plus coming home I could catch the train for a different alternative and not feel like every day was the same thing over and over.

    We are lucky in Melbourne to have so many public transport choices you can never get bored or get into a boring routine getting to and from work. I loved taking a train on cold days and having a long walk home to warm up!

    People who drive to work in the city are just plain bananas!! :)


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