Monday, September 18, 2006

Subway madness and the Great Public Transport debacle

It seems that Subway sandwich stores are taking over the world - well Norwich anyway! It all started with one little counter at the entrance to Castle Mall shopping centre. Then suddenly there was one on Unthank Road, and another appeared by the St Stephens roundabout. And today I noticed another new one near the back of Top Shop. How many sandwich shops does Norwich need? Is it a plot? I looked up the stores on the Subway website and according to that there are only two shops in Norwich - spooky. Are they secretly feeding mind bending drugs to the good folks of Norwich and if so for what purpose?

Norwich does seem to be overflowing with food outlets theses days. Cafes and takeaways must now out number retail stores about 3 to 1. Ironically there are very few places in the city centre where you can buy groceries or other day to day items. We are fast becoming a culture where you can over load with as much cake, coffee and designer shoes as you could ever desire - but try and get a pot of paint and you might find yourself out of luck. Choices for groceries and hardware are strictly limited unless you go out of town, and that, of course, involves a car.

Which brings me nicely to my second bug bear - the pitiful state of British public transport. A girl at the bus stop today asked me which bus she needed to take to get to Dereham or Earlham road. For some reason Norwich chooses not to display bus maps on most of its bus stops so it is very hard for out of towners to find out how to get anywhere.

Then she asked me the price of a ticket and for a moment I thought that she was going to faint. Another shocker - she was from London where you can travel all day on an oyster card for £3.50. Price from Norwich city centre to Earlham road - about a 15 minute walk - £2.80 for a return fare. No wonder cars are so popular. Are we being encouraged to utilize our public transport and leave the car at home - I think not!

All this transported me back in time (no not literally!) to the mid 80s when I was living in rural Norfolk. Our village had several trains a day and suddenly their number was culled to a measly two and none on a Sunday. Our life line all but disappeared overnight. I started a petition and we had a lot of signatures. We took it to the local Headquarters of British Rail (as it was then) and they discounted it - the reason being that some of the signatories didn't actually live in the effected villages. Never mind that those other signatures were from actual rail users, friends and familiy of the village residents, or employees at the local industrial estate. Needless to say the rail services were never reinstated, I wonder if that station has any trains stopping at it at all now.

It's amazing to think that with all the media focus on global warming, the oil crisis etc that we are no further ahead with public transport issues than we were in the 1980s. If anything things are worse now than they were then. Public transport remains costly to the consumer and hard to access for those living in more isolated rural communities. Then we have the wise British Government wagging its knobbly finger of blame at the oil fired power stations whilst using its other hand to build more and more roads. They even let what little industry that was using rail (like the Post Office) desert it in favour of fleets of's madness.....


Anvilcloud said...

We have Subways where no other regular fast food outlets exist.

I always thought that public transit was far better over there ... and it probably is too. Pity us.

pupski said...

must be that subway is taking over the world then - I suspected as much.

As for public transport poor you - what are our governments playing out clearly they don't care as much about the environment as they would have us believe...