72. Bus

If you went to work on public transport this morning, how long did it take?  Presumably you knew what time you had to be at the bus stop or train station, and as such selected a scheduled mode of transportation that got you to your destination in good time.  How long does your commute take?  If it was any quicker would it make a great deal of difference?  Perhaps you may get an extra 15 minutes in bed or be home 15 minutes earlier to catch the start of Karl Kennedy’s latest escapade in Neighbours, but at what cost?

The Un-United Kingdom of Good Britain and the Northern lump of Ireland is known for its brazen ventures.  Every other year there is a plan for a new high-speed railway that claims it will cut your journey from London to Manchester by 15 minutes.  Hmm, at a cost £3.2 billion is that extra 15 minutes you are able to spend up’north going to be worth it?  Are the investors of such a project expecting to make that money back in this lifetime or the next?  It’s stupid, no one needs to be in Manchester 15 minutes early, and if you do, then you get an earlier train.

Sometimes, it’s not all bad; Concorde for example is an engineering masterpiece, perhaps THE greatest invention of the 20th Century.  Together with the French we created a supersonic jet capable of crossing the Atlantic in a touch over 3 hours.  But Concorde sadly failed as the cost of running it became too great.  Only the rich and orange could afford to fly on it, the rest of us had to get on Boeing 747’s instead like peasants and travel sub-sonically, taking us a pathetic 7 hours to get to JFK.

“Boss! Boss! Look at my new invention!” “Quiet Hennimore, I told you it’s too expensive and uneconomical! There’s only one country in the world that would consider buying it, now get back to work!”

This brings me nicely onto the point of today’s transmit: the famous UAE Superbus.  If the relevant authorities are reading this, please, stop.  Send it back to Holland now.  We don’t need it.  It is a terrible idea and has got white elephant written all over it.

You see, the Superbus looks like a Lamborghini, except of course, it doesn’t.  It seats 23 people which makes it more like a Toyota Hiace than the number 93 that runs between North Cheam and Putney Bridge station.  Each “bus” will cost $8.6 million and will travel at speeds of up to 250 kommunists per hour.  This, then, means that you will be able to travel from Abu Dhabi’s Maqta bridge to Dubai’s… err… somewhere in 30 minutes.  This is a journey that usually takes only 1 hour and 15 minutes.  There is no time, ever, when you will need to be in Dubai or Abu Dhabi 45 minutes earlier.

If you do opt to catch the bus you will first need to get to the bus stop, this will require you to be dropped off by your driver.  You will then have to wait for the bus.  The bus will then need to drive at a normal speed through the city until it gets to the motorway.  It will then speed along to Dubai in 30 minutes and drop you off at the bus stop. What are the chances of the bus stop being next to the place that you need to go to?  Slim I bet.  So you will need to get a taxi somewhere.  If you timed your run, and then timed how long it took you from door to door in your own car, I doubt the bus would be faster.

The most interesting point of whole thing is the matter of the road.  You see, at 250kph the Superbus wouldn’t be able to use the normal motorway; it needs its own road running parallel.  Let’s think about this for a minute.  You would need 2 roads, one in each direction, each would need to be at least 4 metres wide (the bus itself is 2.6 meters wide), plus some hard shoulder, so lets say 7 metres (23ft) wide.  It would then need to run the length of the current Abu Dhabi-Dubai road, which is about 120 kilometres (74 miles), that’s 120,000 metres.  Today’s tarmac prices in the UAE vary, but the average is about AED 200 per square metre: 120,000 x 7 = 840,000 m2.  840,000 x 200 = AED 141120000000000.  I don’t even know where to put the decimal.  That’s not even including the cost of the underlay, the guardrail, the labour fees, the landscaping, the consultation, the portaloo’s, the transportation of labourers, the street lamps, the line marking, the cats eyes and so on.

This then asks the question of how much the tickets to ride the bus will actually cost?  If each bus only carries 23 passengers then my calculator screen does not have enough space to work out a) how many passengers will be needed to break even or b) how many airlines or oil fields you must own in order to be able to afford to get to Dubai Marina Mall in only 30 minutes.  I can imagine though it will be hefty.

It is a complete false economy since only the wealthy will be able to use it, and they won’t need it since they are never in a rush and even if they are it doesn’t matter if they’re late.  Plus, they will send their driver with their car to the other end to meet them and have to wait the extra 45 minutes for them to turn up defeating the purpose of the Superbus in the first place.

And why?  Just so they can keep up with what’s happening to Karl Kennedy in Ramsay Street?

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