And no, I’m not belatedly referring to Nigel Farage and the UKIP Conference (although I would like to belatedly thank Nigel personally for placing into the public domain proof of what we as Liberal Democrats already knew, that the hallowed “centre ground” means authoritarian, racist pandering to the Murdoch/Desmond agenda)
No, I refer instead to one of the great threats to the environmental aspect of English transport policy, ftr. For those lucky enough not yet to have encountered it, ftr (pron. f’ter, text speak for future) is the supposed next step for bus travel being piloted in
Specifically, ftr is a standard Volvo bendy bus with an “improved” (read: slightly curvier than normal with an unnecessary rear spoiler and wheel covers) body shell and “futuristic” (read: grim and impractical) interior fixtures. It also has the following “features”;
- Greater capacity (means: one more seat than the bus it is based on)
- Fast automatic ticketing (means: automatic ticket machines on the bus that are unreliable and difficult for anyone with even mild mobility restrictions and don’t give change in order to make it pretty much impossible to use the bus unless you’ve bought a season ticket, hence more money flowing to the bus company)
- Convenient payment options (means: tickets by mobile sounds so cool it doesn’t matter that it’ll never work while we jack up the prices)
- New dedicated route (means: uses the same old route but with priority traffic lights that you won’t notice because the effect is statistically insignificant to anything but the most expert observer, and the same raised kerbs that only every council in the country has been installing for the last five years)
The real problem, however, is the motivation for it all.
Which is fine, and only a terrible waste of money in places like
The environmental cost of such a decision would be despicable. With domestic energy, decentralisation is justifiable because recycling of exhaust heat increases the efficiency of the process. In transport, however, electric trams using overhead power lines supplied by the grid will always beat the efficiency of diesel engines venting that heat to the air. That the government are acting so cravenly and irresponsibly is disappointing but not exactly unexpected; that Lib Dem councillors locally are helping them do so is just embarrassing.
(Incidentally, one final note to any Labour or Conservative campaigner who thinks this entry is an excuse to have a go at York Lib Dems; if you have the unbrazen temerity to even imply that you wouldn’t have approved ftr yourselves, you’re big, fat, stinking, lying liars!)