|George Monbiot asks: “So why aren’t they happening?”
In the Guardian he described and denounced the current inefficient and polluting transport system.
“If you controlled the billions that are spent every year, privately and publicly, on the transport system, and your aim was to smooth the passage of those who use it, is this what you would do? Only if your imagination had been surgically excised.
“Even in a small, economically mature, densely-populated nation like this one, where change is easy, we’re still driving in the wrong direction.
“The simplest, cheapest and healthiest solution to congestion is blocked by the failure to provide safe transit. Last year the transport department crowed that it could cut £23m from its budget, as a result of an “underspend on the Cycle Cities Ambition budget”. Instead of handing this money back to the Treasury, it should have discovered why it wasn’t spent and ensured that it doesn’t happen again”.
So here’s a novel idea: how about a 21st Century transport system for the 21st Century? Here is a summary of the excellent constructive advice he gave:
- aggregate people’s requests via a smartphone app,
- use minibus services to collect people from their homes and deliver them close to their destinations while minimising their routes.
- build a network of such safe, pleasant and convenient walking and cycling paths (like those in Hamburg) that no one with the ability to do otherwise set a date by which no new car is manufactured unless it’s electric,
- set up household charging points, allowing people to plug in without having to take their car off the road,
- introduce a scrappage payment to replace old cars with no car at all: it would take the form of public transport tokens,
- facilitate ‘walking buses’ to school: parents take turns to lead a crocodile of children,
- organise local drop-off points, so that parcel companies don’t clog our streets, and we never miss deliveries,
- provide bikes to hire at train and bus stations, synchronising bus and train timetables,
- reopen old rail lines which were closed in the mistaken belief that train travel was on the way out and build new lines to bridge the gaps,
- bring train services under public control and use the money now spent on road building to make tickets affordable for everyone,
- implement the brilliant plan proposed by Dr Alan Storkey: for an intercity bus network faster and more convenient than car travel, using dedicated lanes on the motorways and interchanges at the motorway junctions and
- build new settlements around public transport hubs – light rail, tram and electric bus systems – rather than around the car.
- (Ed: place more bulky freight on our waterways.
What is difficult about any of this? What technological barriers stand in the way? None. Transport is among the simplest of our problems to solve.