Travel in the UK25 Feb 2019
When I returned to the UK I was pretty determined not to own a car. Not purely because of some “save the climate” thing – although that definitely was a part of the reasoning – but because I’d learned to genuinely love public transport in Finland. Before I left I couldn’t imagine life without a car, but six years later, it was hard to imagine a single reason why I’d ever want the expense and hassle again.
Reality in the UK has kinda bitten that plan on the ‘nads. I started going through Monzo, last week, and had a hard look at my travel expenses. It wasn’t pretty.
Now, bear in mind that I’m self employed, I work from home, and being a developer means I rarely need to leave the house, but when I do, it’ll be to one of the cities I live between, or a bigger hike, like London or Cambridge. I don’t live within walking distance of chums any more, and I don’t get to catch up with out-of-town pals anywhere near as much as I’d like to, but I try to make the effort to get to someone about once a month. We’re not talking Marco Polo levels of travel here, but amazingly I can’t actually get a bus to my nearest Tesco. Such a thing doesn’t exist. In 2018.
Not being funny, but this is fucking insane. And I can’t believe I live in a country where this is normal.
I’m not 10s of miles out of the city, larging it up in some country mansion. I live in the burbs, nestled between Southampton and Portsmouth, two reasonably large and modern cities!
Since I got back there hasn’t been a month where I’ve spent less than 180 pounds on travel. Trains, some taxis, the odd Uber, and some petrol in my GF’s car. On a bad month, it can be hundreds. For comparison, in Helsinki I could spend 100e a month and get infinite travel anywhere around the 3 zones of the city, for a month. A long distance train to the city (Tampere) where I worked was 28e (for fancy first class, btw). And I got a tax rebate on every one of those trips, because Finland.
When you stare at the numbers you realise how utterly crippling this situation in the UK is. To do this long-term would mean I’d effectively be location locked, to make the money last. I have no idea how someone worse-off than me, in this part of the country, could ever remotely cope. It’s impossible to live out of places like the local McColl’s – have you seen the quality of the food they sell there? – but excessively expensive to get a taxis to Tesco, so you’re fucked.
Shit needs to change. I’m fortunate, I have savings I can use to buy a car (I just have, hence the post), but my god I’m feeling for some of the people I know, that struggle with the rent. The longer I’ve tried to do this the more outraged I’ve become. Basic travel shouldn’t be a heinous tax on the poor.
Things can be different, I’ve lived it.