Reply to post: Re: Use Broadband, not the bus !

Buses? PAH. Begone with your filthy peasant-wagons

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Use Broadband, not the bus !

Actually the "prehistoric need for a daily physical commute" isn't that prehistoric. It's very largely the product of post-war town (don't laugh) planning.

I grew up in one of the Pennine textile-producing valleys. In the '50s there were about 4 buses an hour doubled up in rush hours. That worked out very well. Most people worked in mills and had a potential work-place a short distance from home; in some cases their nearest mill would be closer than their nearest bus-stop. Typically a bus-seat would be occupied by several different passengers in the course of a journey as most passengers' journeys were small part of the route. And because some people who commuted travelled up the valley and some down the buses didn't need to make empty outbound trips.

Almost all the mills have now closed. But they haven't been replaced by other workplaces. The predominant theory of town planning seems to have been to separate workplaces and residential areas into separate zones. The workplaces have been concentrated in cities employing so many people that they need residential catchments of over a thousand square miles plus clusters of trading estates largely adjacent to motorway junctions. So the local mills have been replaced by housing (brownfield sites!) mostly inhabited by people commuting to the various cities 20-30 miles away.

The combination of rising population due to the extra housing, a greater proportion of the population being out of walking distance to their employment and the length of the commutes ensures that the old bus service couldn't cope so the car has to take over. But the current roads are simply the roads that were there all along and aren't really able to cope.

It isn't sustainable. And yet it's what 60+ years of town and country planning has worked towards. Adequate public transport is a joke; only a limited proportion of commutes fit neatly onto public transport routes.

Frankly I don't see how it can be fixed. Ideally the answer would be to convert some of the city centre workplaces into residential for those prepared to live and work there and replace them with a combination of home-working and workplaces out in what are currently the commuter belts to restore the balance. But the redevelopment of the old mill-sites into housing isn't easily reversible. As redundant mills the sites had a single owner wanting to sell. Now they have many owners of whom only a few at any one time wish to sell. Short of compulsory purchase it wouldn't be possible to reassemble a plot large enough to build a workplace and the whole notion of developing brownfield sites was to avoid using up more greenfield land.

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