Six people transforming the way they travel
By Anne McLaughlin
Today I spoke at SNP Conference in the Transport debate which was mainly about the need for integrated transport.
And then I thought, hey, that’ll save me writing a blog piece, I’ll just post up my speech! So here it is!
“Conference I’m currently participating in a challenge for Stop Climate Chaos where 6 of us across Scotland are blogging and tweeting about our experiences of trying to use more sustainable forms of transport. Travelling Tales is the name of the challenge if you want to look it up.
So I’ve been forced to analyse WHY I prefer to use the car and initially every blog I posted was like confession time. I have a whole raft of excuses for using the car and I’m sure many of you have them too. My favourite one is that if I drive I can take several pairs of shoes and various coats and change according to my mood. It’s my favourite but probably also the least defensible. Car journeys definitely require less planning, you just get in the car and drive. It is more flexible and if you’re doing multiple journeys in a day, it’s far quicker to drive from A to B and B to C etc. Plus, you can leave the house with no make up on and do it once you’ve parked. See what I mean about excuses.
I was pretty cynical about doing this Travelling Tales Challenge but I’ve started to enjoy it – mostly. Glasgow buses can be VERY entertaining and I’ve had days where I have gone past my stop because the conversations are too funny to miss. The train is fast and frequent, I can be in the town in 4 minutes. I am loving walking – I went to my mum’s in Gourock last Sunday and I almost always take the car when I go down. This time I took the train and walked from the station. Only a ten minute walk but I can’t tell you how great it was to breathe in the fresh air and the smells of the river Clyde – it made me feel alive. I got to my mum’s refreshed and happy whereas normally I get there feeling stressed after driving, mainly because of other drivers obviously!
So I’m losing the excuses and starting to enjoy public transport. However, the times when I use the car for good reason rather than excuses, are normally when there is a lack of joined up integrated public transport. And there are so many improvements that could be made and must be made and I’m pleased to see this motion and the Scottish Government acknowledging that.
Yesterday I went online to find out what time the trains were to get me here. I got on the train at Bellgrove one of my local stations. The ticket inspector was unable to give me a ticket from Bellgrove to Perth but she didn’t know why. The inspector at the barriers was also unable and accompanied me to the booking office where they had the same problem. All of this took more than ten minutes and I missed my train and had to sit in the station for an hour waiting for the next one. If you spotted my normally smiling face not smiling yesterday that is why!
I contacted Scotrail for an explanation but none was forthcoming. However the staff told me that they had been unaware of this but apparently you cannot buy one ticket all the way through. The only way to do it is to buy a ticket into Glasgow and another to Perth. Knowing that would have helped because I’d have got the train on time but how ridiculous is that? If they can’t integrate tickets how on earth will they integrate transport? Even something as simple as introducing an equivalent to London’s Oyster card would make a difference although obviously it requires more than that.
It’s been interesting participating in the Travelling Tales initiative and I congratulate Stop Climate Chaos for coming up with the idea. I find it fascinating reading the experiences of other bloggers particularly those living in rural areas where the challenges are far greater.
I would encourage you all to ditch the car and enjoy travelling again, to look up travellingtales.org and to go along to the Stop Climate Chaos Fringe Quiz in the Royal George Hotel on Saturday night at 5.30pm! I commend the motion.”
PS Train much easier today, quite nice in fact. Price shot up by nearly 3 pounds since yesterday but no dramas.