For those who follow me quite closely, you’ll know that I was away for a week in both England and Portugal. There was a 24 hour period where I did not tweet at all, all thanks to Vodacom’s inability to activate my international roaming on time. But never fear, I managed to get a new sim card pay as you go from Vodafone in the UK, and 30 Pounds later, PigSpotter was back in action.
Upon arrival in the UK, I was amazed at how easy it was to get around. From landing, it took me 2 hours to collect the baggage and pass through customs. After that, within 20 minutes I was well along my way via the Underground “Tubes” railway service to the centre of London. For a mere 8 Pounds, I purchased an all day pass, well worth the money. The efficiency of the system was unspeakable, as those who have been there will know, I was greeted with friendly service by the security personnel, who were willing and very able to assist, the trains ran at approximately 2 min intervals. Along with clearly marked directions and maps at every turn, you’d be foolish to get lost. One rule of thumb one should always remember, if you’re not in a hurry and are just going to stand on the exceedingly long escalator, stand to the right, so everyone else may pass you on the left.
From the underground I stepped out into the sunlight. Yep, sunlight! I was blessed with gorgeous weather. There were immediately several bus services that offered tours around London, For 28 Pounds for a 24hour pass. This bus would take you along two routes, red or blue, depending on how much of London you wanted to see. At any point, you would be able to disembark from the bus, walk around town for a while, knowing full well another bus would be 15 mins behind, and it runs like clockwork., to the minute….. Sadly I did not venture further into England, would have been interesting to compare the efficiency of the transport system between a tourism impacted city, to one on the outskirts. Needless to say I walked a heck of a lot for the pure adventure of it. Strangest sight I’ve ever seen in my life, about 300 men and women dressed in suits, making their way speedily to the tubes, flooding the streets as they crossed them at the intersections, all in a blur.
Next, my journey took me into Portugal. Here I rented a vehicle and in driving between major cities and tiny villages, what occurred on the motorways is what REALLY bewildered me. Bear in mind they drive on the opposite side of the road to us in South Africa, EVERYONE on the motorways keeps right. There are 3 lanes. When a car approaches another vehicle to overtake, the move to the middle lane, once they’re past, they move back to the slow lane. There is absolutely NO trapping on the highways! Instead the Portuguese have adapted a secret weapon….. Undercover police vehicles that follow you, and calculate your travelling speed. If you are speeding or driving recklessly, they pull you over, whip out the laptop, check for any other offences, and make you pay, on the spot. No cash? No problem, you can use your card. They carry a portable swipe machine. Strangely, everyone does generally stick to the speed limit, respectful of others. Another surprising invention discovered in the little towns in Portugal, are the speed detecting robots. They are continuously check your approaching speed, if you’re even 1km/h hour over 50km/h, the robot changes to red and forces you to stop. Stick to 49km/h and you get afforded the luxury of not stopping. Win-win situation!
There are tolling systems as well. 2 types of systems are implemented. 1 being for permanent residents, who can simply drive through, and the toll figure is automatically deducted from your bank account. The other type is an automated system. As you get onto the highway, you collect a ticket, as you get off at any exit, you then pay into the machine, much like at a parking garage. People generally are very mindful and respectful of others and almost never hoot even if someone makes an error. I say generally because in all the 5 days I was there, whilst on a bus, there was some clown in an X6 BMW who decided to take on a bus at a circle, and very nearly came short. Pity, I even had my camera ready!
Well, I just thought I’d bring those points to light with regards to the public transport of those two countries, and hoping that perhaps the Eish-bein of South Africa can re-think their strategy of road safety, and move away from the monetising aspect towards the intended goal of keeping people safe on our roads.
Take it easy out there
Take it easy out there