(Yeah, I know: two and a half years old, and I just get round to it now. Well, I only found it the other day.)
First off, I'm not talking about people with a real legitimate need to drive; like if you're unfortunate enough to drive for a living, or you've got to move a large piece of furniture across town, have to drive a bunch of kids to hockey practice, or those who live in rural areas without public transportation, or even carpoolers (do they even exist anymore?).
That's awfully big of you. You mean to say that some of us have your permission? I'm weeping with gratitude.
I'm talking about you urban-dwelling twits, one to a car, who could easily, easily be taking the bus or the subway instead, but refuse to because of some stuck-up class superiority hangup, while opposing any sort of investment in public transportation.
There are many reasons why I avoid public transport, and class superiority is not one of them.
Let's leave aside the dubious assumption that we all have some sort of moral duty to use public transport, that it is somehow more inherently evil to travel by yourself in a small vehicle than with a bunch of strangers in a large one. (And if public transport is so much cleaner, then how comes bus-only streets are so polluted?) Here is a list of requirements I have for any transport, public or private, before I use it. They're quite basic requirements; nothing fancy.
- I would like to be able to sit down if I want to.
- If I'm travelling with my wife, I'd like to sit next to her.
- I would like to sit in a clean seat that has not recently been set alight.
- I do not want a pool of drink, spit, vomit, or urine, or old food, or litter at my feet.
- I do not wish to be shouted at, or spat at, or be slapped, or have sectarian songs sung loudly and threateningly at me.
- I do not want anyone to accidentally sit on me or to fall on me.
- I want braking, whenever possible, to be gradual. I wish to be thrown out of my seat by an emergency stop less frequently than twice a minute.
- I don't want the driver to insult me.
- I do not wish to get chewing gum on my clothes.
- I don't want to put up with listening to other people's racist slurs.
- I don't want a fight to break out next to me.
- If I buy something while I'm out, I want somewhere to put the shopping bags.
- While I'm getting in or out of the vehicle, I want the option of having it stay still.
- I don't want anyone to blow cigarette smoke into my face.
- I do not wish to sit next to anyone whose body odour is so overpowering that it literally makes me gag.
- I want to be able to get in and out of the vehicle without being jostled, pushed out of the way, or sworn at.
- I want to take a fairly reasonable amount of time over my journey.
- I would like the temperature of the vehicle to be neither so hot that I sweat like a pig in a plastic bag and get a migraine nor so cold that I can't feel my toes.
- I don't want the driver to be reading a paper while driving.
- I don't want the journey to be unnecessarily complicated.
- I do not want to spend any time at all in a sewer.
- If I'm delayed, I still want to be able to get home late at night.
- I do not wish to catch hypothermia while waiting for the vehicle.
- I do not wish to be mugged or assaulted while waiting for the vehicle.
- When the vehicle arrives, I would like it to stop.
- If I am outside the vehicle in heavy rain, I do not wish the driver to refuse to let me in, just for their own amusement.
- I do not wish the driver to lock me in the vehicle while he leaves to use a phonebox or toilet or do some shopping.
- I don't want anyone to kick me in the back of the head.
- I do not wish the driver to take a long alternative route for no apparent reason and refuse to tell me or any other passenger how long it's likely to take.
For example, getting home from my last job, I had a choice between using the train, which took an hour and a half, or taking the car, which took less than thirty minutes, including the time taken to walk to the car. I don't mind a bit of a delay, but that seems excessive.
I used to have to commute from Govanhill to Uddingston, in Glasgow. A direct route does exist, and no public transport goes anywhere near it. A direct train line even exists, but the trains, for mystical reasons, don't use it. The first fifteen minutes or so of every journey had to be spent travelling in the opposite direction to where I was headed. Similarly, in my current job, I could use public transport if I were to allow an extra hour and a half or so for all the unneccessary distance I would have to travel.
This is not a figure of speech. It is a reference to Dalmarnock Station in Glasgow. I recommend visiting it once otherwise, you'd simply never believe it and never going back.
In Glasgow, it is not uncommon to see people at bus stops get so pissed off with bus drivers refusing to stop that they stop the next bus by walking into the middle of the road and blocking its path.
At the moment, the method of transport that meets these requirements is my car.