Essay by Eric Worrall
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, fear of Covid is causing people to avoid climate friendly public transport. But there may be another explanation.
Car use zooms back, risking Australia’s climate targets
By Mike Foley
June 8, 2023 — 1.45pm
If the trend in car use continues, emission levels could soon draw level with pre-pandemic levels, which reached a height of 100.2 million tonnes in December 2019.
Professor Frank Jotzo, director of the Centre for Climate Economics and Policy at Australian National University, said major transport reform, including public, is a major hurdle on Australia’s path to net zero emissions by 2050.
“It will not do for governments to simply say that people should take public transport,” Jotzo said. Australia’s relatively low share in public transport use compared to other developed nations was largely driven by the fact infrastructure had not kept pace with population growth and demand, he said.
“To get people out of their cars and onto public transport it needs to be very attractive, it needs to be comfortable and more importantly, it needs to be frequent, it needs to be reliable and it needs to be affordable.”
…Read more: https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/car-use-zooms-back-risking-australia-s-climate-targets-20230608-p5dey0.html
One issue Professor Jotzo overlooked is safety.
In my community there is growing and widespread fear of youth crime, opportunistic theft and random violence.
I was at a community meeting last Saturday, where lot of people attributed this perception of rising street crime to family breakdown during the Covid lockdown, and the unwillingness of Aussie politicians to lock up underage thugs.
Even more disturbing there may have been a rise in organised street crime. An attendee at the community meeting, who walks his dog late at night, mentioned that he saw teams of underage criminals casing houses and testing locks, while their adult “handler” staying safe in his automobile, letting the drug addicted kids take the risks of actually committing the crimes.
Since underage thugs in Australia are rarely locked up, unless they actually kill someone, this alleged system of organised theft cleverly plays the system, minimising the risk to the adult organisers, and minimising the risk of anyone involved receiving a significant jail sentence. The kids who commit the crimes are likely paid in drugs, while the real criminals reap enormous profits from selling the stolen goods.
Australians don’t have a right to bear arms, even non-lethal deterrents, so older people especially are helpless if a drug crazed bull strong teenage thug decides it’s their turn to contribute to his addiction. Even worse if the drug addict is part of an organised criminal team, and can call on his drug crazed buddies to join the assault if anyone resists.
Given the widespread fear of crime, the lack of protection, and the unwillingness of politicians to lock up the mostly underage criminals at the bottom of these alleged crime networks, there is no mystery why lots of people these days are avoiding public transport, and older people especially are taking personal security very seriously indeed.
I’ve been personally touched by this crime wave, though thankfully nobody close to me has been hurt. A few months ago my tires along with the tires of at least 20 other automobiles in my area were stabbed. One householder who walked out at the wrong moment was menaced by a knife. The police called me a few weeks ago, and said they identified the criminal from security camera footage and arrested him, but there was nothing they could do. They locked him up, but he was bailed the following Monday, and would likely not see any further jail time. Every police officer I spoke to in relation to this case expressed their frustration and helplessness, their families are under threat as much as anyone else. They go through the motions, but the criminals they lock up are back on the street in hours or days. All this makes me wonder how long those police officers can live with believing their job is pointless, before they either quiet quit, or find something more rewarding to do with their life.
If politicians want the public to use more public transport for whatever reason, addressing crime and personal security concerns might be a good start.