On the road.

We went to Opera in The Park, which was brilliant, and had me in tears when they opened with O Fortuna! from Carmina Burana. Much as I complain at times about Leeds Shitty Council wasting money, I think there are worse things they could spend some Culture Budget on than free concerts for 50 000 people.

But for us, this was anything but free. Not because of the somewhat excessive amount of money we spent on perry, sparkling wine cocktails and antipasti in Aldi, but because to get there cost us over £20.

We did, admittedly get a taxi there. Which cost us £9.40, plus a tip for waiting in traffic jams for ages. This was because we were running slightly late, and getting in at half past five, getting changes and into town for seven is not something that First Leeds seem to think is reasonable. In any case, the bus into town would have been £3.40 and the buss to the event £5 for us both (day riders not being valid on special services). So not much saving on a taxi.

We got the event bus home, for a further £5  and then, because although the 56 bus is supposed to run up until 2am throughout the year, once the students have gone home it quite plainly does not, seeming because non-student residents of Hyde Park and Headingley are not considered to have a life, we got  a taxi from town. Another £3.

Unlike most events we were not hustled out of the arena before the last strains of the music had even faded, and were actually encouraged to stay for a period because of the congestion in the car parks. This being understandable when 50 000 people are trying to get out of the same place very fast.

I often comment about people who seem surgically welded to their cars, but certainly in this city (and much of the UK) the public transport system does not do a lot to discourage this. Though they always fire-hose us with adverts about how many cars taking the bus will take off the road.

Private cars are useful, fun and (for those who are unable to create any identity in any other way) are important for some peoples street cred. But they are also an incredibly wasteful and polluting form of transport. I am not going to go all greeny on you and rattle on about carbon and global warming, in part because although I think there is some validity in the science, there is also a certain amount of spin to detract from REAL environmental issues. But, for one thing, reserves of oil are NOT unlimited: this is basic common sense. And for another, if you have ever walked down Headingley Lane in the morning and found it hard to breathe you will know what I mean.

But we have a bus service which is, quite frankly shit.

The buses are irregular, costly (though First Buses makes a huge profit), the drivers are rude, and they are permanently filled with little scrotes acting like cunts, which the driver does nothing about.

I remember one occasion when after waiting 45 minutes for a service which is supposed to be ‘every ten minutes or less’ I asked the driver if there were problems with the service that would affect my onward journey. I was told to ‘shut the fuck up and get on the bus’. Charming, by any standards. I have mentioned the somewhat early hour that the services stop. And the price.

It is not uncommon in the morning to wait for a bus and have three drive past full. Leeds is apparently the largest city in Europe to have no mass transit system. OK, that is a fairly useless statistic, but it certainly makes the point. Millions was spent on planning the Supertram which was then scrapped (though why they decided to try and put the first one up to Headingley which would have meant ripping up a load of beautiful buildings and half the side of Meanwood Valley I don’t know).

Something needs to be done. I would personally advocate an underground – this seems in many peoples eyes to be something that is only done in large cities, though it seems there is a plan for an outer London underground circular. Why not here? Deep-level tunnelling will not fuck up the last remaining green spaces. Berlin manages a 24 hour service on the U-Bahn. OK, I am slightly obsessed with the Underground in London, but something does need doing. Or we will all just live even more in our cars.


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