There is something badly wrong with our public transport system

Blurred Semi Truck TiresI have just spent the day in London for work, something that I will now be doing one day a week for the foreseeable future.

To get to the office I took public transport all the way using the bus, train and tube.

You are encouraged to use public transport through a variety of means including advertising and political messages through to punitive car park prices in the city centres and devices such as London’s congestion charge.

I’m all for it. I think we should be using public transport more as it’s better for the environment, takes the load off the road network and can be a more pleasant experience than driving distances on the motorway network.

But, but there is a problem. While we are encouraged to use public transport, at peak times at least the system is broken.

Let me explain.

Today I travelled from Reading to London Paddington at peak time, 8am in fact. The trains were running late but they are so frequent from Reading that is of little consequence. However, by the time a train reaches Reading it is already pretty full and it is standing room only, squeezed in like sardines.

It’s a similar situation on the tubes. Today the crowds waiting for a tube from Paddington were five deep and the trains were already full on arrival.

You might imagine that such a popular service is due to cheap fares but no, today’s journey cost just shy of £50.

So lets look at that again. You are discouraged from travelling by car to London by the severe cost of doing so and ditto for the train.

My personal position is that the railways should be publicly owned and subsidised by the state but that’s a solution to a different problem, not this one. Neither the trains nor the tubes could run much more frequently, although extra cartridges might help a little. So there is no obvious solution to a desperate problem.

Maybe we should all work from home (unless you work for Yahoo!, obviously).