Belfast Telegraph

Want to know how to beat the traffic jams ... it's easy, just hop on a bus

By Nuala McKeever

Maybe it's all the period dramas on TV that have got us like this. Maybe we all think we're still living in the era of Mad Men or Downton Abbey. Because that's the way we seem to approach the subject of traffic. And more specifically, traffic jams.

For some bizarre reason we all own cars but seem to expect the roads to be empty every morning.

Where do we think all those cars go, for goodness sake? We live in 2012 but expect to have road traffic levels from last century? We need to wise up.

A blind man on a galloping horse (he's travelling in the bus lane, that's why he's able to gallop) could tell you that most of the people stuck in the Belfast gridlock every rush hour are travelling alone - one person per car.

I'd love to know how many of those people drive into Belfast, park their cars all day, work in the city and then drive home in the evening. I'd like to think 'they' ie, the powers that be at DRD and Translink have done some sort of analysis of car usage to figure that sort of thing out.

Obviously, that is a huge waste of everything - time, money, resources, humour, health, fun.

I had a vision the other morning as I was proceeding in the opposite direction to the linear car park - sorry, the traffic going into town. I suddenly pictured all those fed up single drivers looking up to see a benign angel descend from the heavens, shiny and beautiful.

The angel smiled at all those poor, sleepy, frustrated faces and said, "Worry no more, for I have a solution!"

And with that, she suddenly conjured up a magical carriage, pink and shining and warm and big. She held out her hand and one by one the non-driving drivers stepped out of their clunky, going-no-where-fast vehicles and ascended the step into the warm embrace of the magical carriage. And lo, the carriage, filled to the brim with weary travellers, took off and sped, unimpeded, into the centre of town, where it paused, at regular intervals, to let the weary ones off, as close as possible to their places of work.

And the people looked at what was happening and it was good. And they said: "Wow! What a great idea! One big carriage can take the equivilant of a whole roadful of single people.

"Why on earth didn't we think of this before? It makes so much sense! Aren't the we silly backward ones, lacking imagination and just sticking to our old-fashioned daft OneManOneCar ways."

In the crowd there was a little child. As all the adults were 'Oohing' and 'Aahing' as if it was the second coming, the kid piped up: "What are yiz on about? It's a bus. I get one all the time. It's not a magic carriage, it's called public transport and it's paid for by you, for you to use, to make life easier.

"If you all didn't have yer heads so far up your private car ownership orifices, you'd have realised that gridlock is the inevitable result of 'progress' unless a smarter, more community-based, mutual self-help approach is taken. Eh, d'oh ...!"

And the people said to the child: "Alright, alright, we get the point. Nobody likes a smartarse."

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