Thursday, 1 October 2015

Optimising travel to work

The world's cities are changing, technology is advancing. The old model changes yielding place to the new. Driving into the centre of the city from a distant exurb is soooo outmoded, and yet it seems on a day like today that half of Warsaw's working population has driven itself into town, clogging up the capital's arteries for public transport. [And interesting article in Gazeta Stołeczna last week suggested that first-time property buyers in Warsaw seek small - like 20 sq.m. - flats built and equipped to a high standard in good central locations rather than larger flats further out.]

Gone is September, when I could catch the 319 bus from Trombity bus stop at  08:19, arrive at Metro Wilanowska, pursuant to the ZTM's timetable, at 08:41, and thus be able to stride into the office at 08:55. This morning, the 319 pulled into Metro Wilanowska at 08:55. On Monday, this journey took me 20 minutes (ie 50%) longer than in August.

The start of the academic year and the low-temperature morning had a part to play in the jam.

I wrote about the 319 before, a wonderful bus service for me as I'm often the only passenger on board as it picks me up from the bus stop conveniently located 150 seconds walk from home. But by the time it arrives at its destination, Metro Wilanowska, it's nearly full. The bus (only three trips scheduled in each direction, Mon-Fri mornings only) serves to complement the totally overcrowded longer-distance buses running from Piaseczno along ul Puławska, the 709, 727 and 739. At peak times (06:00 to 07:00) there are 23 buses an hour from Karczunkowska to Metro Wilanowska. But between 08:00 and 09:00, there are only 16 buses on this route, three of which are 319s.

Anyway, I get on this bus, pull out my smartphone, and start reading the day's news on Twitter, Poland A.M. and and getting early visibility on overnight e-mails. Time spent on the bus is put to good use. One of the reasons that increasing numbers of people across western Europe are taking to public transport and eschewing the car is the ability to engage with one's mobile device.

Difficult when trying to drive a car at the same time.

"No, the law about not using mobile phones in cars doesn't apply to me because I'm rich so I need to use a 3.5 litre V6 engine to drag me and two tonnes of metal to my office to proclaim my social status. Public transport? It's for the little people."
On the railway, the long-awaited works are well under way. A new platform is being built at W-wa Okęcie, and there's single-track working between W-wa Okęcie and W-wa Dawidy, which is causing some delay as trains have to let one another pass. Once completed, the modernisation of the line between Warsaw and Czachówek will mean that SKM trains will be able to connect the capital to Piaseczno. This will double (at least) the number of trains on this busy commuter line. It will do a lot to take drivers out of their cars and take to the rails. In the meanwhile, my commute between Jeziorki and Śródmieście takes some five to ten minutes longer than scheduled, which is an acceptable trade-off given the promise of better things to come.

Then there's the matter of the bus lane for ul. Puławska. Long promised, Piaseczno, Nowa Iwiczna, Mysiadło, Jeziorki, Pyry and Grabów wait for an announcement that work will start soon. But no news on the horizon as yet.

There has to be carrot and stick to get car users to abandon their lazy ways. Once Piaseczno has a reversing loop for SKM trains, once Puławska has a bus lane, the use of public transport into town will become more attractive. As does the ability to use time on the bus or train to tweet or to connect with friends via Facebook or catch up on office work. And using public transport, one is forced to walk - to the bus stop, to the train station, from bus stop or station to office - and walking is good for you, while sitting in a car in a traffic jam is not. Another carrot is financial. The cost of a quarterly Warsaw Zone 1 travel card is a mere 250 złotys (£45). This works out at 2.90 złotys a day (45p).

You're either part of the problem (sitting one-per-car on your short journey to work, co-creating traffic jams) or you're part of the solution (using public transport or using two wheels to get to town).

This time last year:
My enemy's enemy is also my enemy [Putin and ISIS]

This time four years ago:
Cadillac Eldorado convertible cruises through Jeziorki

This time five years ago:
A whiff of the past

This time seven years ago:
Ul. Poleczki finally finished

This time eight years ago:
Early autumn moods, Jeziorki


Anonymous said...

In a previous post you defended British English against American, or Brussels, English.

Surgeon heal thyself. Railway station, not train station.

Michael Dembinski said...

My preference has been 'railway station' - however - as I also wrote (on Twitter), over the last ten or so years in the UK 'railway station' has given way in official usage to 'train station'. My take on this is that the change in usage after nearly two centuries is the result of privatisation, with TOCs (Train Operating Companies) being separated from the rail infrastructure itself.

Anyway, it's 'physician, heal thyself' [Luke 4:23] :-)

student SGH said...

What property buyers seek depends on the stage of life they are in. Micro-flat fad will come and go, currently the demand is boosted by so-called investors seeking higher return than this offered by bank deposits. Subletting a tiny flat in a good location should fetch the highest return, that's clue I suppose.

Incidentally, I do not understand the rush towards withdrawing money from bank deposits to buy flats only to let them. Will supply of flats for rent from all those "investors" be matched by scores of people rushing to rent the flats or will the market reach equilibrium, i.e. either rent prices will go down, or property prices will decline?