Happy 2009 everyone. In light of Bristol’s apparent failure (yet again) to provide a light rail/ tram system for the city, I thought it would be good to take a look at the historical perspective. The film above, Taken for a Ride, is one of the most important independent films ever produced about the proven conspiracy by corporate interests to destroy public transport infrastructure. Take an hour and watch it- it demonstrates that our current car dependence didn’t come about because people wanted motorcars- the alternatives were systematically bought up and dismantled so people were forced to drive. What’s good for General Motors was most definitely not good for America (or the rest of the world…)
Bristol’s trams were a vital part of the city’s transport infrastructure until 1941…in the 1990’s there was hope of a new tram, but mismanagement and a dispute between South Gloucestershire and Bristol dashed those hopes. This website outlines the history of the tram to north Bristol that was killed in 2004.
Here they are lined up in the city centre- how is it possible that with all the wealth in Bristol, our political leaders tell us we “can’t afford” a tram in 2009? Is this progress? Something doesn’t add up here…
While smaller cities than Bristol (pop. 411,000) such as Newcastle-upon-Tyne (pop. 260,000) and Nottingham (pop. 289,000) boast extensive urban rail systems, Bristol is left floundering with overpriced diesel buses and dangerous, polluted streets. In Germany and other places on the continent, often cities with only 50,000 population have tram systems. Why are we so backward in the UK?
Could it be the same reason why the trams were destroyed in the first place- to eliminate competition and boost the corporate profits of the oil and auto interests? Instead of Standard Oil, General Motors, and National City Lines, today in the UK we have BP, Vauxhall, and First.
The names have changed but the formula hasn’t. This corporate greed and government complicity has led us to where we are today- incessant gridlock, harmful chemicals in our air, deaths on our roads, and skyrocketing obesity.
The question is, when do we stop this mad hatter’s tea party ride and get our transport systems back where they should be– serving the public rather than corporate profits and the worst selfish instincts in ourselves?