Increases in rail ridership & rail vs road/car discussion.

Primary form of transport

  • Car

    Votes: 21 33.3%
  • Public Transport - Heavy Rail/Light Rail/Bus/Coach

    Votes: 30 47.6%
  • Walking/Cycling

    Votes: 12 19.0%

  • Total voters
    63

Jozhua

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Hi all!

Thought I'd start a thread looking at the reasons rail has been seeing a year over year increase in ridership and a discussion about whether rail is taking journeys away from the roads and if it is a viable alternative to car ownership. Almost every year since 1995 has seen around a 4/5 percent increase on average, although there have been some bumps in the road, especially in the last couple of years.

Despite people being more environmentally conscious and roads getting busier, moves towards rail and other public transport aren't always guaranteed. For example, (not UK based, but best example I have) Los Angeles is investing heavily in public transport, but has actually been seeing decreases in ridership.

Cars are quite an expensive endeavour for younger people, with driving lessons and insurance being quite considerable expenses. The average expense for a learner varies between £1300 to £2500, although based on my experience I'd guess the true cost to be around 2-3 grand. Rising insurance costs make things even more expensive, especially once you gain your full license.

I'd probably guess the reasons to increasing rail ridership as:
  • More office based jobs in cities, which are harder to drive into.
  • More reliable services compared to the past.
  • General move from rural to urban areas.
  • People travelling more frequently, for longer distances.
  • Increase in cost of motoring.

I would be really interested to hear everyone's thoughts on this as I know this forum has quite a wide spread of members across the country and over different age groups.

I also thought I'd leave a poll asking members about their primary form of transport!
 
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cactustwirly

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Rail/walking for now, but this is only because I live near a city centre where I walk almost everywhere.
The car insurance is quite high for me and isn't justified for the occassional long distance trip.

Once I graduate, I'll be getting a car, this will be my primary mode of transport.
if you get a high specced car, then this is way more comfortable than a train, plus it's often cheaper as well.
 

3141

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I'd probably guess the reasons to increasing rail ridership as:
  • Increase in cost of motoring.
I appreciate that the cost of fuel isn't the only element of motoring costs, but in January 1985 petrol cost over £2 a gallon (but then fell back below £2) while today it costs about £6 per gallon. That compares well with many other cost increases over the past 35 years (almost). By how much have rail fares increased over that period?
 

JohnMcL7

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When I lived in a big city my primary form of transport was the train but now it's car, I'd like to use the train more but it's extremely expensive even with a fairly fuel thirsty car, it's inflexible particularly for traveling late evening, it's usually a pain to get the bike booked onto it and the car is a lot more comfortable.

From an environmental point of view my primary form of transport is a pedal bike so I don't feel bad about the occasional long trip in the car.
 

Jozhua

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Rail/walking for now, but this is only because I live near a city centre where I walk almost everywhere.
The car insurance is quite high for me and isn't justified for the occassional long distance trip.

Once I graduate, I'll be getting a car, this will be my primary mode of transport.
if you get a high specced car, then this is way more comfortable than a train, plus it's often cheaper as well.
Yeah, living near a city centre is incredibly useful! You don't really need a car, more of a hindrance than a benefit in that situation.

Train prices are rather steep, unless you have a railcard.

I appreciate that the cost of fuel isn't the only element of motoring costs, but in January 1985 petrol cost over £2 a gallon (but then fell back below £2) while today it costs about £6 per gallon. That compares well with many other cost increases over the past 35 years (almost). By how much have rail fares increased over that period?
Yes, double checked your calculations and they're very much accurate! In fact, fuel prices have increased somewhat lower than inflation. Plus, at least fuel-wise cars are now more efficient. Insurance prices are very steep, I don't know how they compare to past figures though.
 

yorkie

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If the choice is only between public transport vs car, then public transport is what I will have to go for; I do not own a car and rarely get lifts.

But if "primary mode" is that which most journeys consist of, then my form of transport is not an option! For most journeys, I cycle.
 

Jozhua

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If the choice is only between public transport vs car, then public transport is what I will have to go for; I do not own a car and rarely get lifts.

But if "primary mode" is that which most journeys consist of, then my form of transport is not an option! For most journeys, I cycle.
Sorry! I've added walking/cycling as an option.

I rarely get lifts or use a car, probably spend more time on planes in a year than in cars. Although that's arguably much worse for the environment o_O
 

njamescouk

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cycle or walk to nearest town / station, train thereafter. mercifully not commuting at the moment but would buy a car rather than go back to public transport.

northern screwed an afternoon up for me last week, cost me 15 quid and wasted hours of my time in an unpleasant environment, so will be just doing the odd shopping trip by train now.
 

Jozhua

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So around 30% primarily drive
50% public transport
15% walking/cycling

That's among people on a railway forum, so I'm guessing public transport usage is probably higher than you'd expect among the population at large.

For those that don't use public transport or walk/cycle primarily, what are the reasons why! I'd be interested to hear your responses
 

yorkie

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I changed my vote when you added walking/cycling but others may not have done.

This is my primary mode because most journeys I make (to a workplace, for shopping, for recreation etc) are local and there is no reason to do anything else if you live in a city like York and are not too far out from the centre.

But as soon as I go anywhere out of York, which of course I frequently do, then it'll almost certainly be a cycle ride (<10min) to the station for a train, with very few exceptions.
 

Failed Unit

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I will answer on behalf of my wife. The bus service between where she works and home is 1 bus per hour. However heading to work there is no bus that arrives between 0745 and 0945 and departing between 1600 and 1800.

the bus service is too infrequent to really make it an option she would consider. She does use it once per week, enjoys the walk at either end. But if it was more frequent every half hour it may be considered.

For me my journey to work is impractical by car. Takes too long. Cycling is only 15 mins slower than the train door to door. But I don’t cycle in London as I don’t want to die.
 

Bletchleyite

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I will answer on behalf of my wife. The bus service between where she works and home is 1 bus per hour. However heading to work there is no bus that arrives between 0745 and 0945 and departing between 1600 and 1800.
The reason for this is typically that if you tender a bus service to operate at times other than school journey times you'll get it cheap because it's ideal all-day fill-in to use a vehicle and driver otherwise being used for school work at the times you suggest there is no service. Even better if you allow a 45 minute gap at lunchtime as there's then no need for complex swap-outs for breaks.

This does however cause it to be useless for commuter purposes - it basically makes it an old/non-working peoples' shopper bus.
 

Failed Unit

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The reason for this is typically that if you tender a bus service to operate at times other than school journey times you'll get it cheap because it's ideal all-day fill-in to use a vehicle and driver otherwise being used for school work at the times you suggest there is no service. Even better if you allow a 45 minute gap at lunchtime as there's then no need for complex swap-outs for breaks.

This does however cause it to be useless for commuter purposes - it basically makes it an old/non-working peoples' shopper bus.
understand. I don’t think if it was really hourly that would be enough to get people out of their cars. Half hourly maybe but at a dramatic increase in costs. When i look at the higher frequency routes such as Hatfield- St Albans. The buses carry a lot of fresh air (single deckers). A lot of people like the door - door journey that most public transportation can’t. My 20 minute walk to the station seems to shock people. Along with the fact i would rather walk across London in nice weather rather than use the tube.

I have used the bus in Herts and being the only person paying. The rest were over 60.
 

PeterC

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When I was working it wasn'ta case of "either / or" as the lack of buses at appropriate times meant rail heading to get to work in London.

With ENCTS I use the bus for my main shopping trip of the week but apart from that it is mostly by car. Train loses out on time and cost in most of England once you factor in taxi fares and an extra 90 minutes or so for the run into London and possible delays.
 

markymark2000

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I think that it's interesting for rail to become so popular, I think that rail is a bit like the roads though in that the deterrent to using the train is overcrowding and reliability. If that puts off people and you then fix those problems, those people will come back to try the train again and over time, you end up back in square one.

Similar to increase road capacity = more people travel by car (not less traffic as our politicians and councillors think).

Buses just end up stuck in the same traffic as the car in most towns/cities so why get on a bus when you can sit in the same traffic but in the comfort of your own vehicle (also you don't need to travel to or from the bus stop at either end of the bus journey).
 

Tetchytyke

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Driving into big cities- any big city- is a grim experience. Expensive, too, if you then have to pay to park all day. So rail will attract people who work in cities away from their cars.

Most people don't work in cities though. They work in out-of-town business parks, in industrial estates, in shopping centres, in small towns. For those people, the car will always win hands-down.

When I lived and worked in London, a car was and is a stupid idea. But even 25 miles out, in Hemel Hempstead, a car was essential; sure, I used the train to work in Central London, but I needed a lift to the station, and my wife couldn't get to her job at a hospital in the next town without a car.

Younger people are now more likely to have the city centre apartment so don't drive (why would they?), but once the young 'uns join us middle-aged parents out in suburbia they'll quickly turn into a two car family.
 

3141

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Many factors influence someone's choices, including their age, location, domestic circumstances, their job and its location, and their income.

If I lived in a large city I might well feel able to use public transport for most journeys which were beyond walking distance. I could use a minicab to bring home a heavy load of shopping and hire a car for any longer journeys for which the train wasn't easily usable. As it is I live in a large village eight miles from Basingstoke. It's two thirds of a mile to the bus stop with a daytime service every thirty minutes to Basingstoke. It's a mile and a quarter to the station where the service is mostly hourly. I'm 80 and my wife is 79. I usually walk to the local shops (a third of a mile). If I go to London I always go by train but I usually drive to the station because I find it preferable not to have to walk home especially if I'm returning late at night - not because of safety concerns, though others might have them, but because at that point I want to get home as soon as possible. If we're shopping in a supermarket we use the car. There's one supermarket a mile before the centre of Basingstoke but the bus doesn't pass it. In any case, the car is the most convenient way to bring home a large quantity of purchases. My wife uses the car on the three afternoons a week she picks up a granddaughter from the local primary school, which is a mile away. She would now find a two-mile return walk stressful. If we're visiting our daughter's family who live in Whitchurch four miles away, or taking a granddaughter home, the car is far more convenient than the bus, which would require a seven or eight-minute walk at one end and a twelve minute walk at the other. Some might argue that as we're retired we've got time to wait for buses and the walking would do us good, but we have quite a lot of other things to do, and occupying your time is also said to be good for you. I don't have a bike because I think motorists generally don't give sufficient consideration to cyclists, i.e. cycling is risky.

I've presented these details because they show the range of factors that influence a person's decisions about how to travel; others will have a different range of commitments which affect their choices. What's also clear is that we, like a great many other people, have arranged our lives around the availability of a car and the things it enables you to do. It would be possible to live here without a car but we'd have to re-arrange our lives in several ways.
 

lachlan

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I can't drive so I walk to uni, take the train anywhere further. Obviously I will only ever live somewhere with a railway station and either good public transport to, or within walking distance of my work.

I think the main reasons people drive is the flexibility and the cost saving. Were the railways and buses (£2.70 for a journey within Aberdeen!) cheaper more would put up with the inflexibility and take public transport. I have a disabled person's pass for buses and trains in Scotland so the cost is not an issue for me.
 

NoMorePacers

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I don't drive - I'm not old enough, so obviously cannot.

My only parent does not drive - she does not have a license, nor can she particularly afford to get one. Even if she could, I doubt we would be able to afford a car.

I could be able to take lessons and get one in about 2 years when I'm old enough. However I don't think I'd be able to afford a car either.

Therefore, whenever we go anywhere, it's either walking or public transport. The terrible public transport in Humberside doesn't help matters (I view Greater Manchester as having a comparatively good system when it's frequently referred to as terrible, to put it into context. London is space-age tech as far as I'm concerned).
 

Ianno87

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I don't drive - I'm not old enough, so obviously cannot.

My only parent does not drive - she does not have a license, nor can she particularly afford to get one. Even if she could, I doubt we would be able to afford a car.

I could be able to take lessons and get one in about 2 years when I'm old enough. However I don't think I'd be able to afford a car either.

Therefore, whenever we go anywhere, it's either walking or public transport. The terrible public transport in Humberside doesn't help matters (I view Greater Manchester as having a comparatively good system when it's frequently referred to as terrible, to put it into context. London is space-age tech as far as I'm concerned).
I've no idea why GM is described as terrible...it's pretty comprehensive.
 

Jozhua

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I think that it's interesting for rail to become so popular, I think that rail is a bit like the roads though in that the deterrent to using the train is overcrowding and reliability. If that puts off people and you then fix those problems, those people will come back to try the train again and over time, you end up back in square one.

Similar to increase road capacity = more people travel by car (not less traffic as our politicians and councillors think).

Buses just end up stuck in the same traffic as the car in most towns/cities so why get on a bus when you can sit in the same traffic but in the comfort of your own vehicle (also you don't need to travel to or from the bus stop at either end of the bus journey).
Yes, induced demand is definitely a proven concept on roads and I'm sure the same applies to rail to a certain extent. I think it is hard to discern between suppressed demand (where people don't make trips because of poor conditions) and induced demand (where people make trips because of the good conditions). I personally don't go back to the midlands very often because the journey is so difficult and expensive, so that's suppressed demand. However, if I got a carriage to myself and fares twice as cheap, I'd probably venture more often because of the convenience.

I think induced demand is probably less damaging when it happens on railways as each passenger has a lower carbon impact and the increased traffic doesn't pose a danger to others. I also reckon the walking, biking or getting a lift to the station would put you off making unnecessary journeys because of the convenience.

It probably also depends on the area. I reckon Crossrail 2's ridership will probably be made up of quite a lot of induced demand, whereas a London Underground capacity upgrade will most likely be entirely quenching suppressed demand.

Bus lanes and guided busways are a good solution to the bus problem, but most routes don't have these unfortunately.

Driving into big cities- any big city- is a grim experience. Expensive, too, if you then have to pay to park all day. So rail will attract people who work in cities away from their cars.

Most people don't work in cities though. They work in out-of-town business parks, in industrial estates, in shopping centres, in small towns. For those people, the car will always win hands-down.

When I lived and worked in London, a car was and is a stupid idea. But even 25 miles out, in Hemel Hempstead, a car was essential; sure, I used the train to work in Central London, but I needed a lift to the station, and my wife couldn't get to her job at a hospital in the next town without a car.

Younger people are now more likely to have the city centre apartment so don't drive (why would they?), but once the young 'uns join us middle-aged parents out in suburbia they'll quickly turn into a two car family.
Yes, the centres of cities are really not designed around cars...

Out of town shopping centres do seem to be on the decline somewhat, most likely due to online shopping, so I think the majority of in person retail is going to be done in the cities where people go for a day out/experience rather than pure convenience. Lots of businesses, like Maplin for example, made the jump to out of town stores at the worst possible time. Out of town business parks are also generally grim places, but I guess the real estate is cheap! The only ones I'll give a pass to are those built near stations or light rail lines, like NG2 business park just outside of Nottingham.

Personally I think I'll remain a city dweller for most of my life, but yes once the younger people move out into the suburbs many will get cars. Still, the UK seems to do a decent job of keeping most areas connected and our suburbs are still far more dense/walk-able than those you might see in North America for example.

Many factors influence someone's choices, including their age, location, domestic circumstances, their job and its location, and their income.

If I lived in a large city I might well feel able to use public transport for most journeys which were beyond walking distance. I could use a minicab to bring home a heavy load of shopping and hire a car for any longer journeys for which the train wasn't easily usable. As it is I live in a large village eight miles from Basingstoke. It's two thirds of a mile to the bus stop with a daytime service every thirty minutes to Basingstoke. It's a mile and a quarter to the station where the service is mostly hourly. I'm 80 and my wife is 79. I usually walk to the local shops (a third of a mile). If I go to London I always go by train but I usually drive to the station because I find it preferable not to have to walk home especially if I'm returning late at night - not because of safety concerns, though others might have them, but because at that point I want to get home as soon as possible. If we're shopping in a supermarket we use the car. There's one supermarket a mile before the centre of Basingstoke but the bus doesn't pass it. In any case, the car is the most convenient way to bring home a large quantity of purchases. My wife uses the car on the three afternoons a week she picks up a granddaughter from the local primary school, which is a mile away. She would now find a two-mile return walk stressful. If we're visiting our daughter's family who live in Whitchurch four miles away, or taking a granddaughter home, the car is far more convenient than the bus, which would require a seven or eight-minute walk at one end and a twelve minute walk at the other. Some might argue that as we're retired we've got time to wait for buses and the walking would do us good, but we have quite a lot of other things to do, and occupying your time is also said to be good for you. I don't have a bike because I think motorists generally don't give sufficient consideration to cyclists, i.e. cycling is risky.

I've presented these details because they show the range of factors that influence a person's decisions about how to travel; others will have a different range of commitments which affect their choices. What's also clear is that we, like a great many other people, have arranged our lives around the availability of a car and the things it enables you to do. It would be possible to live here without a car but we'd have to re-arrange our lives in several ways.
As long as you can drive confidently, I see no reason you should stop doing so!

Cycling is very scary! I've considered getting a bike, but honestly the roads terrify me.

Your point about people's lifestyles effecting their decisions on how to travel is very true! Even though I live in a city, if I liked going out to the countryside on weekends or worked at an out of town location, then I would be considerably more likely to drive, even though the local area around me has amenities close by.

My grandad used to live out in the burbs, but unfortunately is unable to drive now, which left him almost stranded in his house. We convinced him to move 20 miles closer to my parents in the Midlands and he currently lives in an apartment near the centre of town, which means he is closer to family and the shops which is very convenient.

I don't drive - I'm not old enough, so obviously cannot.

My only parent does not drive - she does not have a license, nor can she particularly afford to get one. Even if she could, I doubt we would be able to afford a car.

I could be able to take lessons and get one in about 2 years when I'm old enough. However I don't think I'd be able to afford a car either.

Therefore, whenever we go anywhere, it's either walking or public transport. The terrible public transport in Humberside doesn't help matters (I view Greater Manchester as having a comparatively good system when it's frequently referred to as terrible, to put it into context. London is space-age tech as far as I'm concerned).
I feel for you! Being trapped out in the suburbs in an area with rubbish public transport is the worst.

Sometimes I find it hard to get around with public transport in Greater Manchester and I only live just under two miles outside of the city centre, so the fact you find it worse is worrying!

The cost of learning can vary depending on how fast you pick it up, you might need some more lessons if you can't practice with your mum, but that will be far outweighed by the savings of not having to insure a car.

I definitely think that public transport plays a really important role in allowing people who don't have a car access to the same jobs, opportunities, shopping and leisure as other people! Unfortunately this has been eroded somewhat by the rise of entirely car-oriented developments, but things seem to be moving back in the right direction.
 

Jozhua

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I've no idea why GM is described as terrible...it's pretty comprehensive.
It depends. Some areas are well served, others very poorly. The buses tend to be very expensive as well, so I don't really use them and choose less convenient means instead. Basically if there's Metrolink it's good, no Metrolink it's probably bad.

Relying on trains through the Castlefield Corridor is also pretty hopeless.
 

cactustwirly

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I don't drive - I'm not old enough, so obviously cannot.

My only parent does not drive - she does not have a license, nor can she particularly afford to get one. Even if she could, I doubt we would be able to afford a car.

I could be able to take lessons and get one in about 2 years when I'm old enough. However I don't think I'd be able to afford a car either.

Therefore, whenever we go anywhere, it's either walking or public transport. The terrible public transport in Humberside doesn't help matters (I view Greater Manchester as having a comparatively good system when it's frequently referred to as terrible, to put it into context. London is space-age tech as far as I'm concerned).
I wouldn't call London Underground "space age" when they're still using clapped out 72 Stock well into the 2020s
 

Bald Rick

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My opinion:

1) the relative cost of motoring has increased over the past 20 years compared to rail, particularly for younger travellers. In particular the cost of motor insurance, and to a lesser extent parking costs. For most people under 23 in London it’s cheaper to buy a 1-6 travelcard than insure a car for a year.

2) rail transport provision is far better now than it was 20 years ago. Better frequency on many lines, more capacity, better trains (yes, really), and later services.

3) the large number of people who have come to this country to seek work, don’t have the money to buy / run a car, and are very used to using public transport for all their travel needs. Particularly in larger cities, where public transports provision is better.

4) better pricing of rail fares for longer distance services. If you are savvy you will get long distance fares cheaper now in cash terms than you could 25 years ago. Allowing for inflation some fares are less than half of what they were back then.

5) near universal congestion around towns / cities and on the strategic road network weekdays 0700-1830, and on parts of the strategic network on Saturday mornings and Sunday evenings.

6) the proliferation of speed cameras. Combined with (5), this has extended road journey times considerably. When you could do the M25 to M62 in under 2 hours on a Saturday morning that would be the mode of choice. 3 hours if you’re lucky now.

7) linked to the above two, more roadworks on the strategic network (particularly widening / smart motorway conversion), and/or ‘replacing worn out carriageways’. This didn’t happen so much 20 years ago as the motorways were newer. Also in this is the switch about 10 years ago to overnight work for carriageway resurfacing; long gone are the days of a continuous non-stop blat up the M1 late at night at 90mph. This all makes road journey times longer.

8) smartphones. You can’t use them if you’re driving. You can on the train. This is THE key selling point for Mrs B Rick.
 

Jozhua

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My opinion:

1) the relative cost of motoring has increased over the past 20 years compared to rail, particularly for younger travellers. In particular the cost of motor insurance, and to a lesser extent parking costs. For most people under 23 in London it’s cheaper to buy a 1-6 travelcard than insure a car for a year.

2) rail transport provision is far better now than it was 20 years ago. Better frequency on many lines, more capacity, better trains (yes, really), and later services.

3) the large number of people who have come to this country to seek work, don’t have the money to buy / run a car, and are very used to using public transport for all their travel needs. Particularly in larger cities, where public transports provision is better.

4) better pricing of rail fares for longer distance services. If you are savvy you will get long distance fares cheaper now in cash terms than you could 25 years ago. Allowing for inflation some fares are less than half of what they were back then.

5) near universal congestion around towns / cities and on the strategic road network weekdays 0700-1830, and on parts of the strategic network on Saturday mornings and Sunday evenings.

6) the proliferation of speed cameras. Combined with (5), this has extended road journey times considerably. When you could do the M25 to M62 in under 2 hours on a Saturday morning that would be the mode of choice. 3 hours if you’re lucky now.

7) linked to the above two, more roadworks on the strategic network (particularly widening / smart motorway conversion), and/or ‘replacing worn out carriageways’. This didn’t happen so much 20 years ago as the motorways were newer. Also in this is the switch about 10 years ago to overnight work for carriageway resurfacing; long gone are the days of a continuous non-stop blat up the M1 late at night at 90mph. This all makes road journey times longer.

8) smartphones. You can’t use them if you’re driving. You can on the train. This is THE key selling point for Mrs B Rick.
Very good points there! I might add a couple more as well onto it:

9) Faster train journey times, although there aren't perticularly many flashy high speed routes outside of HS1, journey times have been decreasing as junctions, stations and corners are remodelled to keep trains running at a higher average speed. The ECML, WCML, GWML and MML have all had these kind of improvements to my knowledge. Plus trains like the 220/221/222's accelerate faster. The Pendolinos can go faster because of tilt.

10) I'll call this the "runaway train effect" ;) This is more speculation, but it seems to make sense that as more people use the railways then there is more funding and motivation to improve services. Earlier and later trains, more routes, more frequency to cater for existing passengers also attracts new passengers to trains. Plus, when you see your friends/family using it, then you're more likely to try it. I remember expensive parking and people nicking our parking spot on the road made my parents take the train more. This got me used to using the train, so now I've grown up, it's the way I'm used to getting around!

11) No shame in using public transport! I don't know about the past, but I feel sentiment towards use of public transport is positive. I know very few people who judge someone for not having/using a car and I think the Thatcher style sentiment about bus users in particular isn't as prevalent now. Plus people are increasingly environmentally conscious, so in those respects, it might be moving the other way!

I'm glad that rail passenger numbers are strong, because I honestly rely on the train to get around and having services get attention and investment is important! Hopefully more frequency and earlier/later services will allow even more flexibility and encourage people to use rail services more.
 

PeterC

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It may just be that I no longer move in the same suburban circles as I did before the kids grew up but the car that you drive no longe appears to be quite the same status issue that it was in the last century. That is helped by the taxing of company cars.

One company I worded for in the 70s and 80s gave cars at a slightly higher managerial grade than was the norm. There was a bitter complaint in the staff magazine from one Mrs Bucket type in the staff magazine about how embarrassing it was for her husband to have to pay for his own vehicle.

Public transport, however, isn't a practical option for many outside of the very largest cities. We have a limited bus service timed for schools and shopping. Staying out after tea time means paying for a cab while, without a car, Sundays are just like the Tony Hancock script.
 

Jozhua

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It may just be that I no longer move in the same suburban circles as I did before the kids grew up but the car that you drive no longer appears to be quite the same status issue that it was in the last century. That is helped by the taxing of company cars.

One company I worded for in the 70s and 80s gave cars at a slightly higher managerial grade than was the norm. There was a bitter complaint in the staff magazine from one Mrs Bucket type in the staff magazine about how embarrassing it was for her husband to have to pay for his own vehicle.

Public transport, however, isn't a practical option for many outside of the very largest cities. We have a limited bus service timed for schools and shopping. Staying out after tea time means paying for a cab while, without a car, Sundays are just like the Tony Hancock script.
Interesting! I've found some suburban areas can do buses/public transport well. Used to live about a mile outside a mid-size town in a semi-detached house with a reasonably big garden. Great thing was that it was just about dense enough of an area to support a 24/7 bus route and decent frequency.

The area also had a grid-like pattern, although it wasn't entirely uniform. Having grid-like patterns can really improve walkability and access to areas, even if the roads aren't entirely straight. Cul-de-sacs, circa modern suburbia can make walking to places (and then catching public transport) significantly more difficult. Just saw some neighbouring houses on the end of two cul-de-sacs on Google maps and if you wanted to go and see your neighbour you'd have to walk 1.3Km or 0.8 miles, never-mind a trip to the local park! No footpaths to facilitate shortcuts either.

Then had a look at Los Angeles (king of urban sprawl) and no joke, the first example I chose of opposite cul-de-sac neighbours would have to travel three miles to their neighbours front door!
No wonder it's the city of the car.
 

MarkyT

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...Then had a look at Los Angeles (king of urban sprawl) and no joke, the first example I chose of opposite cul-de-sac neighbours would have to travel three miles to their neighbours front door! No wonder it's the city of the car.
Taken to the extreme it results in gated communities with only one way in and out on one side of the development. The desire for this kind of development is often down to preconceptions that only poor people of colour walk the streets, and they are all criminals without exception who want to rape and kill, and steal money for drugs. I also read there were some poor urban areas in California in the 1960s where it became impossible to walk in or out of the neighbourhood without committing the offence of jaywalking, after streets surrounding them were classified as Freeways (and were thus completely banned to pedestrians even though many actually had sidewalks). Residents, who were mostly black and without cars, could not even walk to active bus stops on these roads without technically breaking the ridiculous law.
 

yorksrob

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Interesting! I've found some suburban areas can do buses/public transport well. Used to live about a mile outside a mid-size town in a semi-detached house with a reasonably big garden. Great thing was that it was just about dense enough of an area to support a 24/7 bus route and decent frequency.

The area also had a grid-like pattern, although it wasn't entirely uniform. Having grid-like patterns can really improve walkability and access to areas, even if the roads aren't entirely straight. Cul-de-sacs, circa modern suburbia can make walking to places (and then catching public transport) significantly more difficult. Just saw some neighbouring houses on the end of two cul-de-sacs on Google maps and if you wanted to go and see your neighbour you'd have to walk 1.3Km or 0.8 miles, never-mind a trip to the local park! No footpaths to facilitate shortcuts either.

Then had a look at Los Angeles (king of urban sprawl) and no joke, the first example I chose of opposite cul-de-sac neighbours would have to travel three miles to their neighbours front door!
No wonder it's the city of the car.
I agree about some suburban areas. I live 20-35 minutes from a big city by train (an hour by bus) and whilst the service could do with being more frequent, I don't generally find public transport a hindrance to getting around. Some late arrivals/early departures involve a taxi to the next town, but other than that the train/bus does fine.

Some of the modern improvements mentioned above are in danger of being eroded though. In particular more capacity, where that capacity gets used up and cheaper long distance travel, where the DfT seems to be forcing TOC's to price gouge to meet unrealistic premiums.
 

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