Next Saturday is “Leave your car at home” day here in the Greater Helsinki area, complete with lower prices for public transport. This is a nice initiative, but I’m wondering if the brains behind it have actually thought the whole thing through. Do they think that during this one day, we’ll all be wooed by the charm of buses (or the ever-late trains) and happily return the next day paying the full fare? I’m afraid the reality of public transport is a bit more rugged than that.
Now don’t get me wrong: I’m a stern supporter of green living. I recycle, try not to buy or spend more than I can actually use and I look for creative ways of transporting myself and my family from one place to another. However, with a family of our size, going from place A to place B is quite a challenge if using public transport – both time- and moneywise. I promise you, that if taking the bus or train with my 3 kids would save me either of those, I would do it. But mostly that’s not the case. If the whole family is going, we save both time and money by taking the car.
Last time we planned a weekend trip I checked every option, because I wanted to be ecologically conscious and the kids were thrilled by the thought of taking the train. But the price of tickets would have cost me twice as much as driving. Where’s the logic in that? And no, the answer is not to raise gas prices even more – the answer is to cut public transport prices and make them the worthwhile alternative for everyone – not just inner city singletons.