Thursday, 5 August 2010

Value for money for commuters

I've written about the Warsaw travel card before; today I took the unprecented step of buying a 90-day extension to my karta miejska. I'm good for travelling around the capital (Warsaw's zone 1 at least) until 2nd November. My 90-day travel card cost me 196 zloty, which at today's exchange rate is just under ₤41. For three months, mind. A mere 45p a day. ₤13 a month.

A monthly travelcard for four zones of London (a similar radius from the heart of the capital) costs ₤141.40. ELEVEN times as much. And average salaries in Warsaw are only two-and-half times lower than in London.

"Ah, but London has a more extensive network of Underground lines, buses and suburban railways..." the carper will carp. But then how often did I ever wish to travel on a whim to Walthamstowe Central, Penge West, Morden or anywhere else other than Ealing Broadway? 99% of my usage of a London travelcard was for use between home and the office and other points around central London. In, out and around locally. Not for making huge excursions around the endless expanse of dreary suburbia stretching out in a 12 mile radius of Centre Point.

Given the incredible disparity in public transport prices, it amazes me that Varsovians still choose to use their own cars to drive to work, given that cars and petrol cost (roughly) the same in Poland, suggesting that car parking is too cheap here and that a city-centre congestion charge zone should be introduced.

Warsaw's authorities are making it ever clearer that the car is not the city's best friend. More bus lanes will be introduced (Puławska's waiting for that expressway junction, so it'll be a year or more before Piaseczno's benighted commuters are forced to ditch their cars).

The city is getting better with the buses and trams (new stock is regularly being introduced), but I despair for those depending on Koleje Mazowieckie - there are only two town-bound trains from Piaseczno between 7 and 8 in the morning. KM could easily run eight and fill them with refugees from the bunged-up Puławska. Officially, we have to wait for the new rail link from the Piaseczno line to Okęcie airport, as there's single line working here right now - a lame excuse. Where there's a will there's a way - but Poland's railway managers show no will for anything other than sponging more money from government coffers.


Fisz i Czips said...

Yeah London is absolute crap. Having lived in Geneva for a bit and then moving to London that contrast, in terms of public transport, was especially painful. It's fine paying a high price if you get what you pay for but in the end... not really, same can be said for accommodation.

Anyways, the longer I'm here the more I'm amazed the UK was THE global super power back in the day.

student SGH said...

Given the incredible disparity in public transport prices, it amazes me that Varsovians still choose to use their own cars to drive to work, given that cars and petrol cost (roughly) the same in Poland, suggesting that car parking is too cheap here and that a city-centre congestion charge zone should be introduced.

Depending on the route they have to cover it's wiser to choose public transport or not. Choice between the underground and a car is obvious, but between a bus and a car - it depends...

Am I a benighted commuter if I use a car (not everyday) to drive to Metro Wilanowska P&R and then take the tube to get to the centre? I don't do it every day, but I find it the best combination of time spent commuting, costs and convenience. This week I did it on Tuesday and Friday when the forecasters had predicted storms and luckily I didn't return home drenched!

P&Rs are pride and joy of ZTM - but after 8:30 there's no space left there. The car park next to Metro Wilanowska station should have at least 1,000 spaces, not 290!

I have no idea what I'll do when Puławska junction becomes a bottleneck.
Train station is much further from my house than the bus stop in Mysiadło, trains run not as often as they should (and as buses on ul. Puławska do), at the time I would need to take a train, carriages are packed to the limits and the last winter proved them unreliable.
Buses as well as cars will be stuck in traffic jams, so a journey in a car would mean wearing it out anc burning litres of petrol, taking a bus would mean standing for around an hour in a crowded bus. I don't know which option is worse.

Bus lanes? In the centre - YES. On roads out - NO. Arteries like Puławska, Radzymińska, Al. Krakowska, Przyczółkowa, etc. should have less intersections with traffic lights. I've commuted to Warsaw by bus for seven years and I am against a bus lane there. Note it would be marked from the border of Warsaw, so in Piaseczno ul. Puławska towards Warsaw would be jam-packed and bus would get stuck there as well. The journey from Mysiadło would take 25 minutes, as in off-peak hours. Before holiday season I took a bus from Mysiadło at around 7:05 and got off at the terminus Wilanowska around 7:35 - 7:40. Ten minutes shorter? Given the price the costs of making lives of hundreds of car users are too high.

My vision is public transport in the centre, good, fast roads and fast commuter trains or trams beyond the centre and on suburbs.

What is left? Walking to the junction? Cycling to P&R Metro Ursynów, if the weather is permitting? When commuting to school it's possible (casual clothes), to work - I don't think so.

And sorry but I can't agree the new stock is that great. I have a reservation about newest buses (side numbers 88xx) - regardless of the season of the year and temperature outside interiors of those vehicles are veritable ovens... In this respect I prefer old, rickety Ikaruses - nice chill in the winter, spring and autumn, good ventilation through opened windows in the summer. Long live Hungarian buses!

PS. Was there a fire in Jeziorki today? I strolled around Mysiadło and at around 9:45 I saw a billow of dark smoke hovering over Jeziorki, approximately 500 metres west to your house.

Michael Dembinski said...

@ Bartek:

P+R - try Ursynów (the latest one). Go up to Wyścigi, turn right and right again - loads of space, you'll be in a train before you even reach Wałbrzyska.

Ten minutes shorter? More like 15. Each way. Half an hour a day. Worth pissing off some Wozidupki.

Fire - missed it - was in the country.

Bus lanes - until there are rails (trams, light railway, PKP - whoever) from the far 'burbs into the centre, the bus lane is the only alternative AS LONG AS the city invests in thousands of new buses.

student SGH said...

P+R Ursynów - know where it is and how to get there. The problem is that I need a roofed place so that I can get into a cool car, after being parked on in the sun the temperature inside the car would be much higher than outside. The other aspect is that I'd save time and fuel by leaving the car there.

On Sunday morning I accidentally photographed another phenomenon. Details soon, if what was snapped is confirmed by professionals.

Yes, if one bus runs after another up and down ul. Puławska I sing up for using it, this makes sense. But a new bus lane plus pushing more despaired commuters into the same number of buses doesn't solve the problem.