Thursday, March 01, 2007

Learning to commute/commuting to learn

Today the nation's 10 and 11-year-olds learn which school they will be allowed to attend from next September. Parents are determined that their offspring will attend a "good" school and make every effort, including moving house into the right area, to make sure this happens. If it doesn't many are expected to appeal.

Unfortunately, the "good" school is all too frequently not the local school. Children are learning to commute for hours each day to get to the chosen establishment. Parents drive them or fetch them, or put them on buses or trains. Some even go by taxi. One father was heard to remark that all this commuting would "prepare them for later life."

You can make up your own mind whether commuting is part of a desirable lifestyle. As long as people can afford it, they'll do it. Whether the planet can afford it is not a question that most people take into account. If Peak Oil truly happens in the next few years then the spiralling cost of petrol will make many people think again. Economy is the only long-term solution, and that means self-sufficient communities which provide the full range of amenities within minimal travelling distance. The government will have to think again about closing local post offices, maternity and A&E departments, and centralising schools. Mind you, that might be more expensive, because governments don't count the extra travelling costs for individuals.

And what would it really be like without a car? Several thousand people in SE England are finding out today as their cars shudder to a halt and need repairs costing hundreds of pounds. Contaminated petrol is supposed to be the cause, but no-one has yet taken responsibility and the actual contaminant has not been identified.

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