Does the Twitterati have any idea how most people live?

The metropolitan elite seems to have forgotten that the vast majority of people travel by car.


Topics Politics UK

As Britain tentatively eases its lockdown, confusion reigns over what we can and can’t do. Even government ministers have been getting the rules wrong.

But no group is more confused by the new regime than the Twitterati, and one aspect of the ‘new normal’ has driven them to apoplexy.

This week, people who cannot work from home are encouraged to go back to work, but they are discouraged from using public transport to get there. Most public transport is still running on a reduced service, just as it had been for the weeks of full lockdown. It is not illegal to take public transport, but it is discouraged.

This easy-to-understand guidance was greeted with horror on sections of social media. Many asked how the majority could be expected to get to work without public transport.

‘Most people need to use public transport’, insisted the Evening Standard’s Ayesha Hazarika.

‘Explain to me “go to work but don’t use public transport”’, tweeted Emma Kennedy, a one-time winner of Celebrity Mastermind.

Of course, everywhere apart from London, the vast majority of workers commute using a thing called a car. In England as a whole, 67 per cent of commuters travel by car. If you include other modes of private transport, then in total 82 per cent of workers do not commute with public transport.

Does the metropolitan elite have any idea how most people live?

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Ivor Million

18th May 2020 at 3:02 pm

People living in London are not an “elite”—indeed, I feel sorry for them, packed together like sardines, paying vast sums for a terraced shack and having to use buses and tubes. What a dreadful “existence”.

Jonathan Marshall

11th May 2020 at 9:58 pm

Well, I don’t know where you live but down here in the rural Westcountry even the least well-off of us has a car (of sorts). It won’t be a Jaguar or a shiny 4×4 or anything swanky, but we’re all able to afford a wreck to get us about – because, Jonnie, there’s no public transport worth talking about in our neck of the woods. OK, there are buses connecting the larger towns (Minehead, Taunton, Tiverton) which will pick up from some villages or smaller towns en route (but not very often), but if you’re working at a poultry farm in Holcombe Rogus or in a pub in Stogumber you need your own transport – clapped out car or motorbike or whatever’s needed.
Do you have no idea how rural people live?

Jonnie Henly

12th May 2020 at 6:27 pm

That’s great Jonathan but in the city many workers can’t afford a car and thus rely on public transport to get to and from work.

Especially when parking is a non starter. People in cities don’t all have huge driveways and garages you know.

Do you have any idea how urban people live?

Jonnie Henly

12th May 2020 at 6:29 pm

You would sort of hope that you do, given how many people in the West country are retirees who used to work in London and other cities and have moved there after saving up enough funds over their working lives.

Like my grandparents and then after them my parents as well. Hopefully they don’t forget where they came from.

Jonathan Marshall

12th May 2020 at 9:39 pm

Yes, Jonnie, there are lots of incomers as you say (DFLs we call them – “Down From London”). But as for the rest of us (still the majority) we don’t have “huge driveways and garages”, we just get along as best we can – and that means that we have to have some sort of private transport. People in cities can in many cases (not all, I grant you) use cycles or walk to work – but that’s something which in most cases is impossible here.

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