Archive for May 2, 2014

On the Birth of his Son

Posted in Poetry, Politics with tags , , on May 2, 2014 by telescoper

Families, when a child is born
Want it to be intelligent.
I, through intelligence,
Having wrecked my whole life,
Only hope the baby will prove
Ignorant and stupid.
Then he will crown a tranquil life
By becoming a Cabinet Minister.

by Su Shi (1037-1101); he is generally viewed as the greatest poet of the Sung dynasty in China and was also known as Su Dong-po or Si Tung-p’0.



On the Buses in Brighton and Cardiff

Posted in Biographical, Politics with tags , , , on May 2, 2014 by telescoper

Recently there was an Emergency General Meeting of the University of Sussex Student Union to discuss rises in bus fares in Brighton & Hove. I was a bit surprised at this because, although the prices charged by the Brighton & Hove Bus Company did go up on 13th April, they seemed to me to be quite cheap, at least given the general cost of living in Brighton. I should add that I use the bus every day to travel to and from work.

Caroline Lucas (MP for Brighton Pavilion) chipped in to say that the fare rise justified Green Party policy of taking buses back under the control of local councils. Given the disastrous management of Brighton & Hove’s  Recycling and Refuse operation by Mrs Lucas’ colleagues in Brighton & Hove Council, I think the least said about that idea the better.

Anyway, out of interest, I decided to check the relative prices of bus tickets in Brighton & Hove relative to the city in which I used to live, Cardiff. That’s of interest for two reasons: (a) the general cost of living in Cardiff is very much lower than it is in Brighton (as someone who’s just moved here I can vouch for this); and (b) Cardiff Bus (or, if you prefer Bws Caerdydd) is one of the very few bus services in the United Kingdom was never privatised. While most local bus operations were taken over by private operators during the Thatcher era, but Cardiff Bus remains entirely owned and managed by Cardiff City Council.

It is very difficult to do a like-for-like comparison of fares, because Brighton & Hove Bus covers a much larger area (including Eastbourne, which is 22 miles from Brighton) and many discounted tickets offer unlimited travel within that. Also, the fare to Falmer from Brighton is most relevant for students and it’s not obvious what to compare that with in Cardiff. Since the distance from Brighton to Falmer is about 5 miles, but Cardiff University is right in the city centre, I’ve included a fare from Cardiff to Barry (also about 5 miles) for comparison as that’s the nearest fare I could find; the time for each journey is about 20 minutes.

Fare Type Brighton Cardiff
Short Hop £1.80 £1.80
~5 miles from City £2.00 £2.50
Day Rider (bought on bus) £4.70 £4.90
Day Rider (phone or card) £4.10 £4.70
7 Day Saver £18 £19
1 Month Saver £66 £66
Annual Saver £510 £485

I’ve only included the full adult fare here; discounted tickets for students are available in both cities. In fact the annual saver ticket for students in Brighton is £365. I use a 3-month saver which costs me £168, which I regard as very good value for money; the cost of this ticket for a student is only £90, which is a bargain!

Clearly, then, despite the recent price rises, Brighton & Hove Bus Fares are actually if anything cheaper than Cardiff, at least when you take into account the much bigger area covered by the saver tickets.

I should also mention that Brighton’s bus drivers give change for tickets bought on the bus whereas Cardiff’s demand the exact fare only…

I think I’ve made my point. I also checked Nottingham’s bus fares (as I’ve also lived there). A comparison is more difficult in this case because of the different fare structure, but as far as I can tell it’s broadly in line with Brighton.