Unpalatable, but here it is: there is no short- or even medium-term alternative to the internal-combustion automobile - yet. Ther industry knows this and holds its hands up in embarrassment. So far, only more efficient variants of the aluminium-and-perspex blister are touted - electric, Toyota's Prius, etc. - but these are not yet mass-producable enough to be cost-effective to either the manufacturer or the customer, and would only really appeal to Europe's smaller countries (The Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, etc.). The larger countries could develop their railways more (whaaat, rebuild all those 19th railway lines?!!) whilst the very large countries (USA, Canada, Russia, Australia, China, Brazil, India) 'enjoy' such vast distances that even rail travel is not cost-effective (we are just NOT patient enough!) and so air travel will remain the norm for some time yet. In Europe we completely overlook the fact that a businessman in, say, London, might consider taking the train to Paris or Glasgow, but a businessman in New York will not take the train to Los Angeles.
From where I live, I should walk into Norwich city centre. Am overweight and unfit, so take the bus. Only, a return ticket costs £3.70 (at the latest count), whilst parking my car in a multi-storey costs £1.40 per hour. And unless one is in a group and so can split the cost, a taxi is prohibitive, too. Do the maths, as they say.
Opinion: the various strands of the transport industry have indeed probably left it too late to look into viable 'alternatives' BEFORE the oil runs out. What is currently on offer is too little, too expensive and too stop-gap. Which leaves us with the ol' chicken-and-the-egg conundrum: do we (consumers) change our attitude now or wait until more and better public transport is both available and of proven reliability ...?"
In my case I would have to change my job to reduce my burden on having a private car. Working shifts and mostly away from "home" I would be reliant on a public transport that doesn't operate 24 hours a day... my girlfriend lives in a different county to me, so I am also heavily reliant on public transport and aircraft to get me from one "home" to another.
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