Monday 22 September 2014

SA AoC Group in Simonstown on the Cape Peninsula 20 September 2014

We went to Simons Town with AoC, to explore the sounds of life.  But because we went on the train, conversation focused on public transport, sustainability and fuel.  These are our reflections.  

My question was why do most medium to high income people not use public transport?  I thought that you hear awful stories about it all of the time, cable thefts, delays.  The train moved quicker than I thought between suburbs, faster than a car.  I found it more relaxing than a car and driving.  You don't have to be alert for other cars, pedestrians and you don't have to constantly look at traffic updates to see which routes to avoid.  As a driver you have to constantly assess, and it is exhausting.  The only worry that you always hear about is security, but there was so much security on the platform.  Most people went into a few compartments, and it felt very secure.  You can forget about the journey, and I would like to move public transport a lot more in future.  It's also not like London or New York, where you are cramped like sardines, and you have to tear in the doorways.  This was my perspective as a person who doesn't have to use public transport, and who has a car and an ability to travel around wherever I want.  

For the majority of the population who does use public transport, it would be interesting to explore what it means if your job relies on trains being on time.  That could be worrying.  I also thought about the safety of women traveling alone, but the people at the platform explained that they have tried to up the security on the train, and particularly at nighttime.

I didn't realize how easy it is to get around without a car.  I would like to use public transport in future.  It's hard to recognize the city from a different point of view.  I find it very interesting.  I like it that the train travels very quickly.  I like looking out of the window.  Now I would like to travel on the train or the bus when I have the chance.  It is interesting to watch the people when you are passing by.  They don't really pay attention to the train, but we can see them.  We can see their homes and their lives.  It is quite amazing.

My journey started with a look at some graffiti which emphasized the value of difference.  We waited a little while at the station, but our journey down to Simons Town was vibrant and fun.  We had children in the compartment, and a man who seemed to fall in love en route, and promised a woman he would give her red roses, the very next time he came to Kennilworth.  Some tourists were on the train.  We got to see the different buildings of the city, different in style as the city spread out.  The best part though was coming back at sunset, and watching the sky turn deep blue over the sea.  At the station, some people sang a UB40 song "there's a rat in the kitchen..." By the time we got home, it was completely dark, but it got warmer as we traveled away from the sea air.  I loved this journey.

I think public transport is important to use, because there would be more peace in the world if there were less resource wars.  The city is also congested, which means that planners need to find a way to increase roads for traffic and cars.  It would reduce traffic jams if more people used public transport.  It would also reduce fuel emissions.  Cars run on oil and petrol, but people can drink water.  I've been thinking about the people who have to use public transport all of the time, and the need for safe and accessible transport, so that people have a choice.  I have also been thinking about the difference between what we need and what we want, and how these things can sometimes be confused.  

A strong sense of community and safety was there at the station, even though some people along the road told us that it was dangerous to catch the train at nighttime.  I asked myself about the best way to travel.  I used to think that the quickest and easiest way was best, but now I think it's important to think more deeply.  The best is that there are least fuel emissions.  It's also important to ensure that more people get access to safe and reliable transport, and can use public transport.

Thank you Nicci Attfield for facilitating this process and images.

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