Theodore Dalrymple: Slaves of the Combustion Engine

The motor car used to be a symbol of personal liberation. You could go anywhere you wanted, any time you wanted, without being tied to the timetable and destinations served by public transport. The wind, as it were, was in your hair thanks to the motor car. But increasingly in a small country such as Britain the car is an instrument almost of torture, a symbol of a peculiar kind of enslavement. It imposes financial costs on me that I cannot avoid however little I use it. In fact, I use my car as little as possible, and I pity those who have to drive to work every day.

By contrast, I love public transport because of the opportunity it gives me of eavesdropping on what ordinary people talk about. A bus is like a bar without the drunkenness and the undertow of aggression.

  • dance…dancetotheradio


    • Heh;)

    • andycanuck

      Not that I read the link, hey–it’s the internet! (actually, I didn’t want to turn on Java to read the page) but to be fair, the UK is alot smaller than North American urban areas and suburbs; and gas is also massively more expensive there so I could see preferring public transit. (Even though it is preferable for bad, statist reasons.)

      • dance…dancetotheradio

        I’ve had relatives of friends come in to town and they just gazed out the windows of the car and said it’s so big.

  • tom_billesley

    Public transport in Europe is a happy hunting ground of rapefugees.

  • V10_Rob

    I suppose it depends on your particular transit route. Some are relaxing and comfortable, with plenty of personal space and agreeable patrons. And some are a proverbial dive bar, crammed with sweaty armpits and inebriated wastes of humanity.

  • canminuteman

    Hell will freeze over before I will take public transit. It’s faster to walk in most cases.

    • mauser 98

      no Garlic Express for me either

  • mauser 98

    fossil fuels have help feed the world , eliminate much poverty
    efficient farming , food transportation has raised standard of living around the world
    prevented famines… perfect no, still the best we have

  • David

    I will drive as long as I can afford to and am physically capable of doing it safely. Driving a motor vehicle represents one type of freedom to me.