FULLY INTEGRATED transport would be one of the most civilising influences on urban living. If all journeys by public transport could be made at reasonable cost, without overcrowding, while boosting reliable connections, the car would offer no competition, even without penalties.
How it can work when there is enough passenger traffic is illustrated by the interim service just started by BAA with its Fast Train from Heathrow Airport to London the precursor to the Heathrow Express.
Step out of any of the airports terminals and one of a smart fleet of dedicated buses will pull up to the kerb. A 10 to 15 minute plus ride on the bus, depending on car congestion on the airport fringes, will set you down beside a brand new train which then whisks along a newly electrified line into Paddington in a mere 11 minutes. At 5 a ride it is not bad value if you happen to want to end up in west London.
The trouble is that if you are standing at a lonely bus stop in Coalville, Leicestershire at 9pm on a Friday night, the chances are you are in for a long wait. With no other passengers around to help fund the ride you would be much better off in your motor.
That was how we got into a car dependent culture to start with in the 1950s and 1960s. Results of NCEs poll published this week show there is a will to escape from it.
But it will take a vast amount of dedicated effort and investment to turn park and ride, buses, light rail, metros and inter urban rail travel into the first choice by making them more cost efficient and convenient to the user than cars.