Sunday, May 25, 2008

Avoiding the private car

We went to the Cambridge Beer Festival yesterday. The nature of the event meant that driving was out of the question, so we had to take the bus.

It's not particularly inconvenient. We can walk round the corner to catch the bus, and it's only a couple of minutes. The bus route is moderately direct, and it's not much further to walk at the other end. Furthermore, the service is frequent - a bus every 10 minutes.

So should have been easy; but in practice travelling in Cambridge by bus is hard work and has often been problematic.

While there's supposed to be a bus every 10 minutes, in reality you wait more in hope than expectation. This case was no different - no bus at 20 to; no bus at 10 to; a bus finally appears at 5 minutes to.

Then we get to the railway station and the bus stops. Everybody has to get off and get on a different bus because this one goes no further.

A bit further on, we get into Cambridge and the bus stops. This time we have to wait 5 minutes for a new driver to take over.

All in all, the journey (it's about 3 miles in a straight line) takes about an hour.

What's more, the total cost - certainly for a family - significantly exceeds that of driving and parking a car.

Is it any wonder that we're having trouble enticing drivers away from their cars?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Poor timing

I've just received my tax disc (vehicle license, for those unaccustomed to the terminology).

I paid for it online, which is good. As I did earlier in the year for my TV license.

However, both the tax disc and the TV license have one flaw. They send you the reminder letter about a month before it's due, but you can only pay from the 15th, so you get the reminder about 2 weeks before you can take action on it. Which means that there's a real danger of filing the reminder away meaning to act on it and then completely forgetting about it.

50 quid a tank

Ouch. The price of petrol continues to rise. Filling up over the weekend cost me 50 quid (that's about 100 dollars to our transatlantic brethren).

But with finer weather I'm cycling to work when I can, which helps both my finances and my fitness.