Better late than never: a slow train from Paisley

By Hamish Carton

YOU all know the feeling. You’ve woken up on a crisp Autumnal morning, showered, had a nutritious breakfast and are ready to make your way to work. You’re right on time, and nothing can go wrong.

You turn up at the bus or train station to find out that your chosen method of transport has been delayed (or even worse, cancelled). A relaxed morning has suddenly turned chaotic.

Ross Clark, a Paisley resident who travels to Ayr for educational purposes, knows the problem all too well.

Ross said: “I’m completely reliant on public transport to get me to university.

“Most times it runs without a problem, but it can let you down from time-to-time.

“It always seems to be at its worst when you’re most reliant on it.”

So does Ross think about alternative methods of transport?

Ross said: “Thankfully delays aren’t too regular an occurrence. If they were, I’d certainly think about driving my car down instead. There’s nowhere near as much risk attached then.

“Surely in the 21st century, when we can speak face-to-face with people around the globe, there must be a solution to signalling problems.”

The very issue of late arriving transport affects more than half of all ScotRail trains with a total of more than 850,000 delayed minutes last year alone. These delays can be attributed to a number of varying issues, none of which are of any consolation to the disgruntled passengers arriving late to work, university or wherever else they were travelling to.

Last year ScotRail, operated by Dutch company Abellio, carried 93.2 million people on their trains and travelled a total distance of 2.9 billion miles. Only 56 per cent of trains arrived on time.

So have the delays persuaded commuters to ditch the rail for other forms of transport? On the face of it, not really.

Driving licence possession has increased by just three per cent over the past 10 years, though more drivers than ever are under the age of 25. Taxi and private hire car registration has increased marginally while buses are seemingly on the way out.

Between 2014 and 2015, there were 414m journeys made by bus. While it is easy to be blinded by that enormous number, bus journeys are actually down 10 per cent in the last five years. But with other public transport services failing, why?

Director of transport lobby group Transform Scotland, Colin Howden, feels that it was ‘tragic’ there has been ‘absolutely no progress’ in Scotland’s public transport over the past decade.

Colin said: “As the new strategy sets out, the past decade has seen a two per cent increase in traffic levels, while public transport use has declined by six per cent.

“Whether one wants to tackle congestion, improve connectivity, or cut emissions, the evidence in this new strategy highlights a wasted decade in improving Scotland’s transport.”

Whatever the feelings regarding the last decade, the majority of commuters will only care about the here and now. And that’s exactly when the hope their trains will soon arrive.

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