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Rural Buses

From our Swindon Correspondent:
The CPRE have written a lot of nonsense about them

The research, conducted by CPRE and Transport for Quality of Life, shows that, with the right investment, the government could deliver a world-leading bus network capable of matching Swiss standards. In Switzerland, every village of two to three hundred people is guaranteed at least an hourly bus service from 6am to midnight, 7 days a week.

At CPRE, we believe that this level of service is possible here too, and should be our aspiration as we build back better after the coronavirus pandemic. Limited public transport in rural areas isn’t a given or a natural side-effect of living in the countryside, and we want to see these communities better connected to give everyone the best quality of life.

If it’s so natural, why are Switzerland subsidising public transport by around 25p/km/passenger? Which is far more than the 6p per *journey* that we spend.
See, it isn’t natural, because when people are in the country, and in an era with cars, public transport doesn’t really work. You don’t have the concentration in a village of 200 people to support a bus. The only way to make it work is wasting public money by providing one.
These are areas where the only practical form of transport is a private car – a costly requirement which can drive low-income families and workers into poverty and leave those without cars isolated. In our report, we’re calling on the government to recognise a universal basic right to public transport.

So, get a car or move to town. It’s not like most villages in the south of England are cheaper than the town. If they were that cheap, and so full of poor people, a bus would be sustainable.

We know that better rural bus services can change lives. This kind of investment will disproportionately benefit low-income families, the elderly and the young. By providing an alternative to private car travel, local bus services can reduce traffic, air pollution and boost high street spending, employment, social mobility and equality – all things that we at CPRE are passionate about.

Well, no, they aren’t going to reduce traffic or pollution. They’ll probably make things worse. Contrary to what many people think, buses aren’t an environmental panacea. A full bus (seating and standing 70 people) is definitely more environmentally friendly than a car, but if you get below 10 passengers, the pollution is worse. It would be better for those people to drive. It also means that a bus company making a profit is a reasonable proxy for whether a route is environmentally friendly or not. Not forgetting that there’s a load of Pigou taxes already in the cost of fuel.
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Bernie G.
Bernie G.
19 days ago

There isn’t enough money in the world to provide a comprehensive rural bus service.

Spike
Spike
19 days ago

“With the right investment,” we could tell ourselves we were pursuing Swiss excellence. Ah! Coronavirus. Ah! poor people. One hopes this snow job doesn’t lead to more “investment,” because rural mass transit is always an “investment made with no possibility of (nor interest in) a financial return. The author is right: It hasn’t been done because it doesn’t work.

Spike
Spike
19 days ago
Reply to  Spike

PS—Now, “build back better”? Who knew Joe Biden was the President of England?

Spike
Spike
19 days ago
Reply to  Spike

PPS—Have looked at the article. CPRE “have run the numbers” and find there is enough loot in the roads budget to provide hourly bus service everywhere with no fare. Anyone could write a proposal showing the benefit of free bus rides, but depending on a cross-subsidy, you wind up with not two workable transit systems but none.

Bloke on M4
Bloke on M4
19 days ago
Reply to  Spike

But why should drivers pay for bus services everywhere with no fare? Buses are already cheaper, if you have the numbers. And if you don’t have the numbers, why are you using a bus?

I don’t know why the Swiss do it. Maybe it’s about snow or something. Maybe trains and buses and f**king trams are national religion to the Swiss like the NHS in the UK.

djc
djc
19 days ago
Reply to  Bloke on M4

Why do the Swiss do it? Lots of tourists; on single track mountain roads is not a good idea. Localism, lots of small communities. Subsidy because the buses are run by the postal service. And yes, maybe the Swiss just think it’s a good thing and not to be qusestioned.

Bloke on M4
Bloke on M4
19 days ago
Reply to  Spike

But who are these poor people in villages? The ones around here and much of the South of England are middle class dormitory villages, not full of 6 fingered farm hands. It’s not like there’s much work in the villages around Swindon or Reading. And well, if you’re doing something in the village that means you need a car, you raise your prices to pay for one. And I don’t have a problem with an occasional social bus. I’m not going to suggest uprooting old people. But a bus every 2-3 hours is fine for them. They’re retired. They have… Read more »

John B
John B
19 days ago

The small north east village in which I grew up was served by five bus companies up to the 1980s after which the service declined. Service to the market town 7 miles away was every 15 minutes Mon – Sat, from 0700 to 1900 then half hourly until 2300, hourly/two-hourly to other towns at 10 and 12 miles distance. Sunday service was hourly/2 hourly. Today, buses there are infrequent. Why? People bought cars.. People for whom Environmentalism/Public Transport is a religion and who live in large towns and cities, cannot/will not understand that people don’t travel by car because buses… Read more »

Boganboy
Boganboy
19 days ago
Reply to  John B

I’d agree. I might drive my car once or twice a year, but I do like the convenience of having one.

Bloke on M4
Bloke on M4
19 days ago
Reply to  John B

More than that, the reliability and cost of cars changed who lived in villages. My grandparents on both sides lived in villages and market towns in the 1970s. It was cheaper to live in Malmesbury because it was a bit cut off. And villages had lots of shops because old people would walk to them.

The middle classes started moving in around the mid to late 80s because of cars. It’s what led to village facilities and culture dying out, to become dormitory villages.

jgh
jgh
19 days ago

When I lived in a village it had a regular bus service only because it was on the main road between two large towns.

Andrew M
Andrew M
19 days ago

Switzerland is uniquely well-suited to public transport because the narrow valleys force all transport (road and rail) into tight corridors. You simply can’t have urban sprawl when you’re surrounded by either mountains or lakes.

MrVeryAngry
MrVeryAngry
19 days ago

The real total bollocks in that is that ‘buying a car drives (sic) people in to poverty’. You can buy a perfectly serviceable car on the used market for a few hundred quid. And then run it dead cheap – except for road tax (government extortion)., high fuel taxes (government extortion) etc etc. And I know this ‘cos I live in a rural area (very) and did exactly that for years and years. As do many of my neighbours still. Of course once we are forced into expensive, limited battery life electric cars this won’t be possible….ah, yes. of course.

jgh
jgh
18 days ago
Reply to  MrVeryAngry

The last three cars I’ve had cost me £500, £450 and £300, each lasting me three years. Adding in MOT, tax, repairs and insurance that’s about £500 per year before I even put petrol in it. That’s two weeks’ minimum wage. Personal transport is the cheapest it’s ever been in eternity.

MrVeryAngry
MrVeryAngry
18 days ago
Reply to  jgh

Which – IMHO – is exactly why ‘they’ are lying through their teeth w r t CO2 and demonising the ICE. The ICE being a modern wonder in the way it relatively efficiently converts high energy density fuel into power, and with very low emissions.

Spike
Spike
18 days ago
Reply to  MrVeryAngry

That’s a fact! I think we will someday figure out how not to generate absurd heat to benefit from incidental locomotion, as we have just figured out how not to generate absurd heat to benefit from incidental illumination. Until then, petrol is uniquely portable and that’s what matters most.

Addolff
Addolff
19 days ago

They live in a nice quiet place, going out of their way to stop development or anyone else moving in and ‘spoiling the village’ (so no major built up areas like, you know, hospitals and that), with property far cheaper than in the smoke and much better environmental conditions (less pollution – both airborne and noise) and away from all the ‘townies’ with their ‘diverse, multicultural ways’ (read: No trust, no respect, violent shit hole ghettoes, full of brown people with an alien culure completely at odds with the civilised Judeo-Christian ethos we were brought up with). They then moan… Read more »

John Galt
17 days ago
Reply to  Addolff

That’s boomers for you.

rhoda klapp
rhoda klapp
15 days ago

I live in a village, I can ride the bus free. But I still don’t. Nobody on there but bloody old people with a free bus pass…oh.

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