Myth: You can’t take six kids and 10kg of rice on public transport, so it’s pointless
Fact: You can’t take six kids and 10 kg of rice in a family car, either. Public transport doesn’t suit everyone for every trip, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be used for the vast majority of trips that involve just one or two people without heavy loads.

As Abraham Lincoln almost said, you can please all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but not all of the people all of the time.

I play golf at Ascot Vale three times a week. To get there by public transport would entail a walk to the bus stop, a bus, a tram, and then another bus or tram, plus a walk to my golf club. I estimate it would take me two hours one-way….Please, get out of your single-purpose, insular bubble and recognise public transport has limited use and is not an option for everyone.

—Keith Hawkins (Tullamarine), letter to The Age, 15 August 2022

No sane person really believes that public transport will suit everybody for all trips. There will always be people who cannot or will not use public transport, and some trips for which public transport will never be an option. But that does not mean that it cannot be a useful option for most people most of the time. We provide a road system despite the fact that a significant number of people cannot or do not drive cars, for the benefit of those who do. Similarly with public transport.

And taking a regular load of supermarket shopping, golf clubs or even tradies’ tools on public transport needn’t be a huge challenge, either. Nor is it even a rare occurrence.

Shopping by public transport, for the cost of a $10 trolley

If even a small fraction of trips switch from cars to public transport, everyone benefits. If everyone who could switched even one trip a week from the car to public transport, the effects on traffic, and public transport patronage, would be noticeable. As well as the reduced pollution, and the health benefits from a little increased walking, there is reduced congestion on the roads, which benefits those who are driving.

Last modified: 15 August 2022