For some time, I have been thinking about how I could manage without a car in order to reduce my carbon footprint but living outside the urban area it is not as easy as I would like. However, this year I have been forced to confront the issue because I am not able to drive until I have successful cataract treatment.
Some of the issues facing those unable to drive are simple ones, others are more difficult. Moving to public transport requires a different mindset. Timing trips and planning ahead become important. It is necessary to anticipate longer journey times, difficult connections and to realise that spur of the moment activities are impractical. It is difficult to attend evening and Sunday meetings. Everything takes much longer.
Nevertheless, the 101 bus service has been a lifeline. It will divert to pick me up to go into Devizes or Pewsey (handy for the station) but I can’t use it before mid-morning and there is no evening service. The drivers are friendly and helpful and passengers often know each other which makes journeys pleasant. It is of little help to anyone needing to get to work so most of the passengers are retired people. It doesn’t connect well with train services either and it no longer goes into the station which must be difficult for disabled passengers.
My alternative route into Devizes is via the 49 bus: I have a 15 minute walk up the lane to the stop and would not like to do it in the dark but I appreciate it during daylight. It doesn’t operate late enough for evening return journeys in any case.
It’s a circular problem, people don’t use public transport because it isn’t convenient and unless you have a bus pass or rail card, is expensive especially if you have a car too. But unless people use the service there is no incentive to improve it.
We need to decide what public transport is intended to achieve. It allows those who don’t drive for whatever reason to get about. Being able to get about easily facilitates social interaction and reduces isolation. Better public transport could take cars off the road and reduce pollution and carbon emissions. As we become more aware of climate change this is an important consideration.
I’m still in the position of thinking I may be able to drive again so haven’t yet come to terms with a permanent reliance on public transport or lifts from family and friends. Maybe I’ll decide not to do so. In the meantime, I am grateful that the 101 is available.