Climate Activists Fear Post Covid-19 Commuters Will Avoid Public Transport

Bethnal Green Tube Station, London. Author Tom Page, CC Attribution License

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

In the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, for many commuters sharing a tightly packed metro with their suspiciously unhealthy looking fellow commuters may have lost its charm.

Climate change: Scientists fear car surge will see CO2 rebound

By Matt McGrathEnvironment correspondent
19 May 2020

Daily global emissions of CO2 fell by 17% at the peak of the shutdown because of measures taken by governments in response to Covid-19, say scientists.

The most comprehensive account yet published says that almost half the record decrease was due to fewer car journeys. 

But the authors are worried that, as people return to work, car use will soar again.

They are urging politicians to grasp the moment and make real, durable changes on transport and personal mobility.

In the UK, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has pledged £250m for improvements to cycling and walking infrastructure. Other countries are also looking at similar plans.

However, now that the UK is beginning to return to work, Mr Shapps said people should drive to work rather than use public transport, should walking or cycling not be an option.

“If you can’t walk or cycle but you do have access to a car, please use it rather than travelling by bus, train or tram,” he said.

Read more: https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-52724821

UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is recommending people drive to work rather than catch the bus or metro. Some people might have no choice but to use public transport, but I suspect driving will remain a popular choice for many months if not years to come.

83 thoughts on “Climate Activists Fear Post Covid-19 Commuters Will Avoid Public Transport

  1. They are urging politicians to grasp the moment and make real, durable changes on transport and personal mobility.

    In short, they’re urging politicians to force us into further densified vulnerability to every future buggy-wuggy that comes our way. Your honor, I object.

    • Density is a health hazard. It’s easily imaginable that people, who can afford to do so, will retreat to the suburbs again.

      The left likes to blame white flight on racism. In fact it was largely to avoid higher city taxes by moving to the suburbs where the taxes were lower and the services were better. People would pay big bucks to get away from crummy, violence infested, inner city schools so their kids could get a better education. It still happens. link

      Will folks move back to the suburbs to escape disease and pestilence? My guess is that it could easily happen.

    • Top among the bad ideas is mass transit. In the USA transit uses MORE ENERGY THAN CARS per passenger-mile. Takes twice as long to get people to work, and can only cover a small percentage of area jobs in a reasonable commute time.
      Of course it is more convenient, especially when you must make several stops along the way. But you do not get to meet interesting people offering you drugs, babbling incoherently or threatening you.
      Evidence at DebunkingPortland.com

      • JimK
        Do you have back-up evidence to those claims. Certainly here in London it does not take twice as long to get to work by PT rather than car. I dread to think how long it would take me by car. Also the energy quote seems somewhat off given the number of people carried by a single tube train versus the usually single person in a car.

        • It’s been true everywhere I’ve lived. It may not be true in very, very densely populated cities where they go out of their way to make using individual cars difficult.
          As to using energy, trains and buses stop more frequently than do cars and do so whether there is anyone aboard or not.
          During rush hour it’s possible for mass transit to be more efficient, however buses and trains run all day and much of the night, cars don’t.

          “I dread to think how long it would take me by car.”
          Thank you for admitting that you have no actual data.

        • “Certainly here in London it does not take twice as long to get to work by PT rather than car.”

          1. Governments have intentionally made London a lousy city to drive in. The time I spent an hour traveling a mile in London some years ago was entirely due to the appalling traffic light programming, where the light would go green when the light ahead was still red and there was nowhere for the cars at the green light to go because the section of road ahead was full of cars waiting for the red lights. As soon as it went from traffic light every fifty yards to open road, we were quickly up to forty miles an hour.

          2. You assume that everyone gets on the underground or bus right outside their door and it takes them directly to work. Most people have to change once or twice. It’s twenty years since I worked in London, but back then a tube change could take half an hour if the train was stuck somewhere or broken down or just not running for no apparent reason. It was so bad that I started walking because it often beat taking the underground.

          Here in a city which hasn’t had insane Marxists deliberately wrecking its transport infrastructure, I can drive to work in fifteen minutes while the bus takes an hour. Because, duh, we have roads designed to move cars around rapidly.

        • Harrowsceptic,

          It’s been about a decade ago since I lived there so details are fuzzy but local Portland, OR news has run quite a few articles on using public transport. Per your request these are not “studies” but they are news reports on the situation.

          -First they asked for and got some volunteers that normally drive to work to take public transport instead. They looked for people who had similar drive times but different distances from public transport and different methods they would have to use. The quickest of the commuters doubled their commute time and the slowest was 4x. Slowest had to walk quite a ways to a bus stop, ride bus to light rail station, switch light rail lines, ride a bus to the nearest stop for work and walk from there.

          -Second, Portland public transport can only handle ~6% of the population at maximum capacity. Normally it handles 3% per day and only hits maximum during inclement weather which is normally snow or freezing rain. Snow and freezing rain typically causes light rail to break down which brings the number of people it will carry to 0. Why does it break down? Because they didn’t design the system to handle snow or freezing rain which is typical winter weather in the area (more freezing rain than snow).

          -Third applies to buses, I have not seen anything similar for light rail. Until the buses hit a certain ridership (don’t recall the number) cars are more efficient. The problem with busses is they run their route no matter if empty or full. A full bus is more efficient than a car, empty busses are not. Outside of morning and evening rush hours busses are normally rather empty.

          -Fourth, public transport often loses money for each person transported. Again it’s been a decade but when I lived up there a light rail ticket would cost up to $4 but actual cost was ~$16 per person. A losing proposition if you ask me.

          -Fifth, time is money so going back to my first point. The shortest commute went from ~20 minutes by car to 45 minutes using public transport. The longest commute went from ~30 minutes by car to 2hrs using public transport.

          -Last, I work with people who have had to rely on public transport (loss of license, no car) as their means of getting around. When a bus doesn’t arrive to pick them up and they call to complain you know what they get told? Don’t rely on public transport to get yourself to work because the routes/time are not guaranteed. It’s enough of a problem that they did a poll of local business owners. When asked if a High School Diploma or car was more important to them when considering hiring a new employee they said car.

    • Gov. Gavin Newsom is at the ready! With higher and higher gasoline taxes and carbon fees. And since the State of CA is broke … pay up suckers! We get the Government we deserve.

      • Gavin needs the extra revenue from raising gasoline taxes to give illegal aliens a big paycheck. I suppose Gavin thinks if he does this, the illegal aliens will vote for him in the next election.

        • They will, and have.
          Did you hear about that judge in Pennsylvania who recently plead guilty to vote tampering? Seems he pulled the lever for the Democrat as many times as he could whenever nobody was looking.

          • I think that person is facing up to 15 years in jail for his voter fraud.

            Voter fraud is a Big Deal! The Democrats are ruthless, and without a moral compass, and will steal the elections if we give them the chance. Trump needs to be on his “A-game” on this subject. We have to be able to count on the validity of the vote.

            The Democrats are not about Democracy.

  2. As usual, the BBC maintains it’s ridiculous activist agenda against oil, gas and coal and anything associated with the industry that reliably powers our modern civilisation.

    They remain in the thrall of fantasy energy sources and electrification of the transport fleet, including air travel.

    So, again, we can just ignore this piece of nonsense from their uninformed, evangelical and economically-ignorant activist staff.

    • Maybe the BBC should lead the way and power all of it’s enterprises (and all contracted-in programs from outside sources) with ‘renewable’ power sources only.

  3. By ramping up the Covid-19 panic reaction in the minds of tyhe general population, in the hope of welding it to the New Deal Climate Crazinesses, Activists have unwittingly opened the Pandora’s Box of pandemic disease terror amongst the population who now fear close proximity public transport and want to use their own cars for safety. This will drive up C)2 emissions and (in the minds of Alarmists) cause all sorts of augmented Climate terrors. This could be a case of ‘hoist with their own petard’.

    • The panic has also seen people leaving densely packed cities, like NYC, and going to the suburbs. Since the jobs are still in the cities this will mean longer commutes and thus more CO2 even if they use public transport.

      Jumping on every crisis as an opportunity to push your agenda, whatever it is, without considering ALL the consequences leads to the wailing and gnashing of teeth when they realize they have shot themselves in the foot. Again.

      • More and more companies are beginning to wonder if the high cost of maintaining a presence in the big cities is worth it.
        I’ve read several articles in the last week or so about major companies who are looking to shrink the size of their downtown offices, if not eliminate them entirely.

        • There are going to be a lot of people rethinking how they are going to conduct business, and I think it will be beneficial in the long run. I can definitely see internet medical care taking off like a rocket. I loved my last virtual doctors visit at the VA.

        • I read a claim the other day that a big US bank recently dumped all its commercial real estate investments. It’s inevitable that there’s going to be a big crash, both because of companies going bust and the surviving companies permanently shifting a lot of people to work from home.

          Will be interesting to see what happens to New York when much of the business has moved out and there’s little to no tourism.

    • The discomfort of working in a filthy, disease-ridden city may also cause the jobs to move to the suburbs as well.

  4. The word “Activist” must be code for bogeyman for it to be used in the title of three posts in a row- so scary.

    activist /ˈaktɪvɪst/ noun, a person who campaigns to bring about political or social change.

    But isn’t that what you do Eric?

    • What word would you suggest Loydo? If anyone can think of a better, more appropriate phrase than “climate activist” happy to take suggestions.

      • You could have left it as “scientist”. In the article you quoted thats what was used because, well, thats what they are. I guess you changed it to “activist” because “scientist” wasn’t dog-whistley/click-baity enough. What a shame.

        • I think you’ve hit the nail on the head, Loydo.

          In future every time we mention an activist masquerading as a scientist, we will state climate “scientist”.

          Good suggestion.

        • No, these people aren’t scientists. A scientist would be looking impartially at the evidence and concluding that it doesn’t support the global warming agenda. No, these people are actively manipulating the data to create scary graphs and headlines. Not scientists, but activists.

          • That’s why one uses scare quotes. Climate “scientists” are pseudo-scientists.

        • In the article quoted, the “scientists” were worried that the personal choices others make (i.e. choosing to drive to work) would not be to their liking, and urged the government to make policy to do something about it. When describing activism, “activist” is a better noun to use than whatever the activist’s day job happens to be.

          Even if we grant that the research estimating the drop in emissions during the pandemic/lockdown is rock solid, that says absolutely nothing about whether hypothetical future personal choices of other people will have negative or positive impact, or what public policy should be.

        • Loydo – May 22, 2020 at 12:58 am

          You could have left it as “scientist”. In the article you quoted thats what was used because, well, thats what they are.

          Loydo, according to you, there are 10s of millions of Baseball Scientists that are not being recognized as such.

          Climatology or climate science is the scientific study of climate, …… scientifically defined as weather conditions averaged over a period of time.” (kinda like Baseball Science, ya know)
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climatology

          Climate is the long-term average of weather, typically averaged over a period of 30 years. Some of the meteorological variables that are commonly measured are temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, wind, and precipitation.
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate

          The scientific study of climate is, in actuality, …. the recording and study of temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, wind, and precipitation. …. HUH?

          OH MY, …… that means that “climate science” is actually the oldest profession of humans and the prosti—-, … uh, uh, ….. concubine profession has been relegated to 2nd Place.

          Shur nuff, because hunter-gathers, herders, farmers, etc., have been recording and studying the daily weather and multi-years of climate since the early Neolithic Age about 12,000 years ago, ….. qualifies them as being the “first ever” climate scientists.

      • eco terrorist.

        as they spread terror by telling tales of the coming end of the world by mass extinctions, floods, fires, rising conflicts, etc.

    • It seems being an ‘Activist’ is enough to gain righteousness and self importance which then allows whatever subject they decide to push to be free from srcutiny. I will often hear “I’m an activist” as if it is a respectable profession but without having done any work or study (exhibit [a] – Greta).

      • Apparently, while in high school, I was an activist. Much to the chagrin of several fathers in the area.

    • “Activist” is being polite and (more importantly) brief. “neo-Malthusian, Lysenkoist grifter”, while more apropos, is rather bothersome to type repeatedly.

    • I see Loydo has nothing serious to say, again.
      If the best you can do is argue about word choice, then perhaps you aren’t worth what you are being paid.

    • “Activist” – formerly “Progressive” – formerly “Liberal” – formerly “Progressive” – formerly “Democrat.”

      All of these have the same operational definition (their meaning in real life, not dictionaries) – “Person who desires to impose the absolute rule of the better class (of which he or she is a member) over the vast herd of inferior commoners.”

      • Don’t forget to add that their motivation is that what they want us to do is for our own good. If we disagree with their “enlightened” vision, then they label us deniers.

  5. I don’t know where you live in Aus Eric, but PT here in Sydney has just got a whole lot more stoopid. There are green “stand here” stickers on the floor to entrance/exit doors to trains as well as green “sit here” stickers on seats all 1.5m apart!

    • Patrick MJD May 21, 2020 at 11:32 pm
      They need ones for when to breath as all the thinking is now done centrally.

  6. How confusing for XR. They must not know whther they are coming or going. First they try to stop commuters using the underground and now they are worried the commuters won’t.

  7. Never going to happen (return to the car), at least in London/Large Cities. The cost of driving and parking makes that certain.
    Not to mention the congestion charge/low-emission-zones/ultra-low-emission-zone. And last, but not least, for London, there is that mobile car-park, the London Orbital Motorway M25. Seriously, getting past the congestion around the Heathrow junctions takes longer than the rest of the journey. Car driving to work in London is the choice of the rich Prozac imbiber (with a company parking allocated place).

    • The Zil lanes actually exist in London, they call them bus lanes of course, to avoid upsetting the sensitivities of the people. Only the police and escorted public officials, along with the occasional bus are allowed to use the largely empty road space.
      For some reason the Green activists think ever more bus lanes is a good idea. Now the government has said to the public you should not use the buses it means there is more free space for the officials in their chauffeur driven cars to travel unimpeded through the now empty city centre.

    • The U.K. has accepted that beatings will continue until morale improves. With Covid, the governments and media have made their own trap. Use public transport for your own good; use public transport is dangerous to your health.

    • Don’t forget that the councils are busy making it hard for anyone to drive anywhere. The City of London will be a no-go area for motor vehicles so that should make life fun for anyone who needs a delivery or some sort of service. Transport for London will be joining in too. Should make London the last place to see any recovery to the economy.

    • JohnM, all the more reason to give up on large cities altogether.
      The reason for them to exist ended with the rise of modern communication systems.

      • Not to mention that big cities are only possible due to highly-competent public sanitation and disease control organizations.

        Which we no longer have.

        Without them, big cities are death-traps.

    • But JohnM,

      If it costs everything you make to stay safe with your in-city job, you will tend to look elsewhere for employment. After a while those in-city businesses will run out of people willing to put up with the bullocks from neo-communist governments and they will move their office space to suburban office parks that accomodate the safety their employees need.

      In the age of the telephone and internet, you do not need to be even on the same continent as your customers and business partners. If you are risking death in the plague infested, dense urban mass transit areas, you will tend to avoid that if you can.

  8. And….underground users also have problems with pollution. CO2 levels are much higher than above ground, and particulate pollution ditto. Car drivers are less exposed (probably because cabin-air filters work) https://phys.org/news/2019-12-reveals-high-pollution-london-underground.html (London underground, AKA TfL, do not measure CO2 levels….. !)
    A lot of underground/overground passengers are the cause of a lot of the pollution. I recommend deodorant and more frequent showers.

  9. Climate activists says we need to lower the Earth’s population to about 2-3 billion. Maybe that’s the plan of climate activists, force us to take crowded and unhealthy public transportation as wave after wave of COVID 19 hits and decimates Earth’s population until it’s a more manageable 2-3 billion?

  10. Until now, health aspect of public transport was silently ignored, although everybody knew that it is not good. I think it will never get back to pre-Covid levels.

    • The health aspect was explained to me at the specialist hospital I attend regularly, under the guidance titled: “helping you avoid infection”.
      Public transport is to be avoided. If ever any enemy wants to spread infection, they could not do better than infect a few people and pay for them to stay on the tube all day…or have them fly into other countries…oh, wait..

      • trials with bacteria in lighbulbs thrown into NYsubways a couple ofyrs ago showed a damned fast spread of it through the system, the trains sucked it along the subways, the supposedly harmless bacteria made a few people rather ill as well.
        funy how they seem to forget they ever did those trials though they got publicity at the time

        • “The germ warfare testing program was revealed by a news report in the early 1970s and then by subsequent Freedom of Information Act Requests. Scientists who’d been involved with the program were called to testify before Congress.

          Army scientist Charles Senseney was one of those called to testify in 1975. He told a Senate subcommittee that city officials had no idea the tests occurred. According to a New York Daily News report that cites his testimony, he said that a more dangerous agent would have “put New York out of commission.” ”

          https://www.businessinsider.com/biological-agents-were-tested-on-the-new-york-city-subway-2015-11?r=US&IR=T

  11. Maybe entirely the wrong place to put this question but has anyone got the sense that the climate debate has become rather….muted of late?

    • Yes, but not in a good way for the climate hysterics – even people who were neutral about the debate now see what a real crisis looks like and have little time for the likes of Greedpeace, XR, etc.

      Actually they are caught on Morton’s fork – if they claim that the shutdown is good because it has reduced CO2 emissions and they don’t massage the data that show zero impact on CO2 levels worldwide then people will eventually notice and start asking more difficult questions; whereas if they keep claiming that the amount we put into the atmosphere is too small to show up then the obvious issue is why bother?
      We should stick this to them.

  12. As some other commenters mentioned, public transport in large congested cities is speediest and cheapest option. You will see public transport being overfilled again when and if productivity gets going again.

    17% CO2 reduction at the peak lock-down – what is there to brag about – is it something to be proud about? I don’t think so!

    But I have a solution to the non-CO2 problem: Ban the procession of smartphones. You will get more privacy from Big Brother and CO2 contributors will fall, genuine human contact will increase and interesting opinions will see the light of the day.

    • Honestly, I’m looking forward to the day I stop working and can get rid of the phone-like tracking device I have to carry while I’m on-call.

  13. I have been using PT here in Sydney, Australia, and walking about in public throughout the whole COVID-19 scare and lockdown. I have not once been stopped and questioned about my presence outside. I have many friends and c-workers who have swallowed the sc@m hook, line and sinker. Now there is a posturing game going on with Australia (And the REST OF THE WORLD) calling for an investigation while China says they will impose tariffs on Australian produce and resources (Coal etc).

    I guess Australia chose to put all it’s economic eggs in one basket!

  14. I suppose that’s why cities across the UK are making it difficult and expensive to drive to work by making wide cycle only lanes and congestion charging for dirty vehicles.

    I spent several years cycling to work every day, not a long commute only 5 miles each way. But a normal British winter will separate the dedicated from those paying lip service. A month of wind and rain or sleet and snow makes for a miserable start to the day. Not everyone can work from home.

  15. Ah, Mr. Worrall, when you say, come up with a better term than “climate activist” you tempt us all, as there are a plethora of such terms. Mostly quite harsh.

    This might be an appropriate time to note the generally high standards of courtesy on these forums, which is remarkable because disagreements are common and passionately felt.

  16. Make working from home a thing and we dont have to use the car. In fact many UK companies are looking at this. They have seen increased productivity, and are wondering why they pay expensive office rent. Their staff are happier without sitting in a stupid metal box two hours a day and able to spend more time with their families.

    In the long term location wont be an issue with hiring the skills you need.

    We wont be wasting money on fuel, tires, servicing, etc. We wont need an more roads, so car tax could even reduce.

    And those that are out on the roads, delivery drivers, can get around easier.

    Win win win all round.

    • “In the long term location wont be an issue with hiring the skills you need. ”

      And just think how much they can reduce wages when their employees can live in the north of England rather than in London.

      It’s a win all around for business.

    • One has to have a certain amount of self-discipline to work from home for someone else successfully. It’s easy to get distracted sometimes, and that is not good for productivity.

    • Doubt it.
      Most of the garages that only do MOT tests will not re-open, the lockdown and 6-month extension of current MOTs’ has done for them.
      Fuel at £1.00/litre has seen the closure of two filling stations around me, maybe short-term, but who knows?
      As for servicing; well, oil changes are based both on usage and mileage. A low-use vehicle needs more frequent oil changes due to the oil not reaching its design temperature, and the price of all servicing post-CV, will be higher. Modern vehicles electronic control modules take into account time of use and length-of-time-of-use before popping the service light on (bearing in mind that an illuminated service light is an MOT failure)(see comment above!!)

  17. “UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is recommending people drive to work.”

    No in reality he’s not, he wants people yo cycle/walk first, and use public transport last.

    Local councils have been busy land-grabbing main roads and making them into pedestrian/temporary cycle lanes, deliberately obstructing car use ready for the rush back to work!

    This is supposed to be temporary but lots are already saying it is permanent.

    Shapps has bunged the council s loads of money to make these changes, thrown more at EV charging points no one wants, and e-scooter trials – dangerous devices when mixed with pedestrians and traffic which are, and should remain, illegal on the streets in the UK.

  18. The reaction to the WuFlu isn’t adding to the appeal of public transit. Here in Canada’s capital city, the transit union wante “everyone” to wear a mask:

    The union representing OC Transpo drivers and maintenance workers wants everyone on board the buses and O-Train to be wearing a mask during the COVID-19 pandemic.
    “I think it should be mandatory that they have to wear masks going on the bus,” said Clint Crabtree, President of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 279.

    Now they say “during the COVID-19 pandemic”, but I’d wager masks will be required well after the pandemic is deemed ended. If you have no other option than to take public transit, then you’ll have to follow the rules.

  19. It is clear that people should avoid public transit AND increased densification. And Democrat Governors who demand that Wuhan virus patients be put into nursing homes.

  20. Ahhh Yes. ‘Social Distancing’ is essential, until the elitists decide to force the peons to get on the crowded bus or light rail. No ‘man spreading’ allowed, but Chinese virus spreading is sooooo environMentally friendly!

  21. It’s almost like absolutely everything the left are pushing, from ‘renewable energy’ to ‘high-density living’ to ‘reusable bags’ to ‘public transport’ turns out to be disastrous and our ancestors had very good reasons to dump them as soon as technology provided better options.

  22. Yes sir. One person per car please. Just be careful to disinfect your hands before getting back in the car after gassing up.

  23. Damned right they will, climate activists don’t know how to clean anything, just how to tax everything.

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