We need to make public transport in Norfolk and Suffolk a viable alternative to car travel
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015
Flowers at the scene of a roadside after a fatal collision are always a painful reminder of the dangers of car travel across our region, particularly with our rural roads.
As a journalist for more than a decade, I have seen far too many of them. The past 12 months have been no exception, with the three teenagers killed in a tragic accident at Pulham Market earlier this year immediately at the forefront of my mind.
While I appreciate accidents happen and the victims are often not the ones to blame, to me car travel seems an extraordinary risk where the slightest fault – mechanical or human – could end up costing lives.
As many of those around me will know, I have always preferred where possible to cycle to the next interview or catch a train than get behind the wheel.
While I still find myself having to drive frequently for various reasons, I often find sitting in traffic a waste of time when I could be using that time more productively.
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So when I see Victoria Road in Diss or Norwich Road in Thetford clogged up with traffic, I ask myself: why do people do it?
The answer is simple – that whatever the downsides and risks of driving a car, public transport in Norfolk and Suffolk is still not good enough to be a viable alternative.
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It seems incredible that in the modern age, people would rather risk the unknowns of the road than a bus ride or train journey.
But what choice do we have? A bus ride between Lowestoft and Norwich takes more than an hour each way, which many people understandably find too much on top of a full working day – especially if they have families to look after.
Trains can be quicker but, if you have an early start, you sometimes have to be on board before sunrise – and many trains finish before 11pm, which is no good for late workers.
Many people therefore have no choice but to jump in a car, which seems all the more tempting when you can get there so much quicker and choose the times you travel.
Public transport operators are not always the ones to blame. After all, they have to run a business and cannot run services at times which are not profitable.
But we need to find some way of making our public transport a more viable alternative. It is not only that our economy could benefit, but lives could be saved too.