Wednesday, 2 August 2006

Public versus private transport -- a reasoned response

Last week I ran into an old Friend from my days with Friends of the Earth back in the 1970s. He was the transport campaigner Mick Hamer, and I talked to him about the issues I have raised concerning public transport, and in fact I rather loosely (but apparently more or less correctly) quoted him in an earlier blog. Mick kindly sent me his opinion, which does address some of my concerns, and gives a very logical and rational approach.

I think the bottom line is that a society in which everyone flies or drives is one that is completely unsustainable. One in which people only walk, cycle or use public transport is one that is pretty close to be sustainable--or could be made so. There would be less global warming, less pollution, no new roads and less building on greenfield sites.

Should people be discouraged from flying and driving? Yes. Should people be discouraged from taking trains or buses? This is much more difficult, partly because it is a less important problem than flying and driving and partly because if you want to tackle flying and driving then it makes sense to offer public transport as an alternative.

Hope that useful, Mick

This is a good approach, though I do have to say, that it is biased towards urban-dwellers. It does not really help if you live in low-density rural areas.


  1. Well, if we want to make society less unsustainable, at current population levels, we should all be living in the cities anyway, in as small a space as possible, maximising the surrounding land that could be used for creating food for all of us or set aside for other 'ecosystem services'.

  2. So al Queda is doing us all a favour by discouraging air travel!

  3. Helena's solution is not acceptable to a large number of people, myself included, who do not want to live in cities. Cities, particularly the 'megapolopis's of today are niether sutainable nor desirable. It was Dr Johnson who famously said somethhing along the lines of "When a Man is tired of London, he is tired of life." But that was when it only took less than half an hour to walk out of London into green fields and lanes.