Tuesday, 25 September 2012
Belfast's Bus Balls Up.
Being a member of the Green Party you may have just assumed that I'd love to carpet every city with bus lanes and, to an extent, you'd be right. However, bus lanes aren't a congestion solution, they aren't a solution to climate change and they aren't a solution to public transport under funding. What they are is a small part of a whole solution and unless you employ all parts of that whole solution in tandem or in sequence, then you will fail to achieve the objective, whatever it may be.
Not the logical question for DRD though. Instead, they settled on 'How can we force people to use the public transport system they have so emphatically rejected?' Surprise, surprise, they preferred the stick to the carrot. And surprise, surprise, the people did not like the stick one little bit.
I've bleated on and on (to anyone that will listen) about public transport before, but the issue is still there so I'll bleat on and on some more: we need ridiculously unprecedented levels of investment in public transport before it's a viable alternative to driving. The fact remains that, even with the bus lanes making congestion worse in Belfast, it's still more attractive to drive and in some cases, still remains the only option.
It's impossible to measure the value of being able to have your own, secure, private method of transport available whenever you like. To compete against that you have to make all of the objective variables so, so much more attractive. Only when you get the combination of fare price, accessibility, frequency of service etc right can you mitigate that immeasurable appeal of driving.
Still, it's only been a couple of weeks so maybe things will settle down and maybe people will come to like the DRD's big stick and will indeed start using the bus & train to get to Belfast (which would be great) and I'll be proved monumentally wrong. I hope so. I really do.