LETTER: Pensioners are ‘not to blame’ for problems with UK public transport system

Reading the letter against free bus pass holders, with pensioners in particular labelled as being just another type of “benefit scrounger”.

One hardly knows where to start, or stop, given that the Derbyshire Times was published just days day after that very group of British citizens commemorated husbands, fathers, brothers, uncles and granddads who died in their millions.

Far from being benefit scroungers, pensioner passholders are in fact the only public transport users who have paid their fares hundreds of times over from ones like my great-grandfather who started work in a colliery aged 13 years , and who was still breaking a sweat of a day when he collapsed and died from a brain aneurysm at the age of 80.

When I and other young people were given free bus passes too, I made use of them, but I always knew that it was wrong to give them to us - unlike our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents, we had contributed nothing to the economy, so were taking out where we had not paid in - economic insanity by any measure.

Today young people pay the bus companies for a ticket, only to get it reimbursed by Derbyshire County Council.

Nobody under the age of 25 should get free public transport - if parents cannot or will not be a free taxi service (more fool them) and cannot afford public transport, young people should walk or use their pocket money.

Just think of the massive boon to public health of flabby, slouching, computer screen teenagers walking to school/college/training/work and back every day.

My grandparents walked three miles to school and back daily from the age of eight and remain whippet slim despite eating like horses and all the stuff that has the food faddists shrieking with horror - butter, milk, red meat, etc.

Also think of the effortless teaching of a life lesson in fiscal responsibility - everything costs money, so be careful how you spend what you have.

The problems with the UK’s public transport system stretch back to the 1950s, and are nothing to do with the elderly pensioners Mr Gould writes about with such contempt and derision. Until that period this nation had the world’s finest public transport, a fully-integrated national network of trains, trams and buses that operated to integrated timetables.

The Anglophile American writer Bill Bryson was able to backpack around Britain on public transport without ever having to worry that he would get off a train in some tiny rural halt and find himself stranded. Buses linked into trams and trains. But thencentral and local Government ministers in bed with car manufacturing firms ripped up the tramlines and closed down all the “feeder” stations that delivered customers to the main lines.

As one long-time railway employee said to me at Chesterfield Station: “It was like wanting to put more water in the Thames but then damming up all the tributaries to it.”

Once the captive motorist had no alternative, road network maintenance and repair monies were used and we still in the 21st century have no main motorway joining London to Edinburgh.

Now slowly the trams and trains are coming back - but piecemeal. In Derbyshire, Bolsover, a key commuter hub/suburb, has been abandoned as the only town with no regenerated public railway line - it took 12 minutes by train from Bolsover to Chesterfield, it takes 40 in a car on a good day.

Both Markham Vale (commercial stop) and Carr Vale (residential stop) are ideal for a train line that could be linked up to the Robin Hood line at Creswell, Whitwell and also with Mansfield.

Bus companies make no effort to integrate their routes with train and tram services - you can get off a tram at Halfway near Eckington and if you time it wrong your wait for a bus service is in hours not minutes.

Instead of sensible plans and investments like reopening and recreating the vast national network of train and tramways, we have ridiculous follies like HS2, which will wreak havoc for no benefit, and no building of desperately needed linked-up rail, road and airport infrastructure outside London because the scam that is global warming has completely sold people on the insanity that the Industrial Revolution and modern technology is somehow a bad thing (both have saved millions of lives).

The blame lies squarely with those who will not grasp the nettle and who want it, but want to have it without paying for it and would like it to magically appear to avoid the inevitable temper tantrums of the eco-industry which has already driven our National Grid straight into the ground over wind farms.

CD Stewart

Chesterfield