Getting across town – practical sustainability?

Sometimes it’s just too hard.Metropolitan bus interior - blue seats, yellow poles 🙁

Doing things a sustainable way, that is.

Especially in our current society…which is still mainly geared for the non-sustainable way of doing things.

At least it is in Australia, with our spread-out cities and towns…and public transport that is slow, or infrequent, or non-existent…especially at weekends.

Maybe it’s different in well oiled, fairly compact metropolises, where most people don’t own cars…

But here, at least, travelling by car is pretty well a requirement – at least some of the time…unless you have lots of time to spare (and I do mean lots).

Take, for instance, visiting people on the other side of town at the weekend. That’s what I did.

On Sunday I was in Melbourne. And I wanted to visit two lots of friends.

They live fairly close to each other on the other side of town from where I was staying.  Not in a straight line through the city (which may have been easier) but certainly across town.

I borrowed a car and off I went. Without a second thought.  It was Sunday, after all. And I was going across town. So much for thoughtful decision-making…

I had been told it would take me about an hour to get there (by car)…and about 10 minutes to get from one friend’s place to the other.

And it actually took me about one and a quarter hours each way, and about 20 minutes in between.

It was heavy, concentrated (that is, tiring) driving. (Roadworks, heavy traffic, not quite sure of some of the route details…). And I was already tired from not much sleep on the Friday beforehand. So I was pretty tired on the way home.

And that got me thinking: would it have been better to have gone by public transport?

Maybe I would have got less tired, because I wouldn’t have been concentrating on driving…but maybe I would have got just as tired, because both trips were in unfamiliar territory. So, no clear answer there.

But it would certainly have been better for the environment if I had gone by public transport.

Melbourne’s public transport has improved out of sight since I was at school. Especially at weekends.

But would it have been an option for me?

Good question. Especially as I observed some hardy souls waiting for buses as I drove back…buses going across town, roughly in my direction.

So I used the Melbourne public transport journey planner* to work out if I could have made the trip by public transport. (It was going to be interesting, because one of my destinations was not clearly anywhere near public transport.)

What luck!  I could make the trip by public transport. 🙂

It would only have taken me about one hour and 50 minutes to get to my first destination…by two trains, one bus and some walking. 😉

That’s only 25 minutes longer than driving (because of the extra distance of having to go via the inner-city)…assuming all services ran (which they don’t always, but that’s another story).

So going by public transport for the first leg of the trip certainly was an option.

On to the visit to the second friend…

That trip was a bit different.

This time it involved one train, two buses and a bit more walking. (All the better to warm me up on a wintry day. ;))

And it would have taken me…only one hour and 45 minutes…to do the equivalent of a 10 to 20 min car trip! 😮

And the reason? The backtracking…because there was no public transport travelling roughly in the direction of my car trip. Which meant travelling back almost to the CBD…and then out again in roughly the same direction!

And so to the trip back home. (Given the last leg, I almost didn’t bother checking it out.)

This time the modes of transport depended on the time of leaving. It might have been anything from a walk to two buses to the city and the train back out home… to walking to a bus, tram and then a couple of trains. And it would have taken somewhere between one hour 20 minutes and one hour 40 minutes.

So, if I’d started after a leisurely breakfast, I could have travelled by public transport to see both friends and been home for dinner. 🙂   That’s better than plenty of other places…

But it didn’t fit my timetable. And a taxi wasn’t within my budget – not with a car on loan.

So that’s what I used: a car – probably the most practical option. For now, anyway.

How do you find travelling longer distances ‘sustainably’ in urban areas?  Share your experiences in the Reply box below…or send me a voice message by clicking on the tab on the right.

Till next time…be gentle to yourself and our world!


* You can usually find a city’s trip planner by typing ‘public transport journey planner’ + the city’s name into your search engine.

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