I took a bus recently with one of my more cage-obsessed friends. They were shocked that the return trip from Witney to Oxford cost nearly a fiver (well, £4.60, but that extra 10% or so buys you a whole mouthful of hyperbole). Later on it emerged that a full tank for their car would cost around £30, and a quarter of that would take them 40 miles. Being a borderline Asperger, I did the math(s):
£30 to travel 160 miles corresponds to 18p/mile.
£4.60 to travel 24 miles corresponds to 19p/mile.
When you factor in insurance, and tax, and repairs, and the paaaarking, and not being able to have a drink, and spending the evening quiet and uptight because you’re worrying about your car, public transport suddenly seems like the extra-bargain cheapo option. With all those non-optional extras, you could probably carry passengers and still spend more than you would on the bus.
“Oh, but having a car is so liberating! It means you can go places, and see people, and you’re not constrained to public transport….” “Beholden” was the phrase my companion used, I think. Chained to a timetable. Let me, therefore, reminisce for a while, both vaguely and specifically, about the freedom of people who make every single journey using private, motorized transport.
When we lived in a car-free development for a year, we had plenty of visitors. CRB would pop over from BSE semi-regularly, like an old knife-sharpening tinker, to sample our gluten-free fayre. In between times, brightybot, hatmandu, RD, or friends from work, would pop round, we’d go for a drink, carousing would ensue—I’m painting a picture here, can you see?
But all I can really remember about those liberated individuals who didn’t have to rely on public transport or (ha! how antiquated!) their own two feet is that we almost never fucking saw them, because there was no paaaaaarking, so there was never anywhere to put their two-tonne, twelve-foot-long, four-wheeled mewling toddler. I don’t know why they didn’t just part-exchange it for a set of shackles and a scold’s bridle.