by Neil Rickert

I decided to take a break from my usual fare, and post something a little different.

These days, people are concerned about climate change. So there is a move toward using electric passenger cars. Thinking back to my youth, I remembered that most of our travel at that time was electric. And we did not have to worry about lithium batteries spontaneously bursting into flame.


Yes, that’s right. We mostly traveled by electric tram.

I grew up in South Perth, a suburb of Perth (Western Australia). And trams were how most people traveled, at least for local travel. It was actually quite convenient. Our house was perhaps 400 ft from a tram stop. We could quickly go downtown (i.e. to the city of Perth). And we did not need to hunt for a parking space. And I’m pretty sure that the typical carbon footprint was far smaller than what is typical today.

This was actually good for me in learning how to be independent. At around age 8, I was recruited into the choir at St George’s Cathedral (part of the Church of England in the city). So I was taking the tram to the city twice per week. One trip was for the rehearsal, and the other for the Sunday performance. I didn’t mind singing, and I got to ignore those boring sermons because it was only the singing that mattered.

That ended after a few years, when my voice began to break and I was dropped from the choir. But, never mind. Shortly after that, I began to attend high school. And the high school that I attended (Perth Modern School) was in a different suburb (Subiaco) on the other side of town. So I was still taking regular tram rides 5 days per week. It was around a 15 minute ride into the city, and then a 10 minute ride to the high school. And, of course, the reverse when returning home. I would sometimes browse through the stores in the city, on my way home.

After graduating from high school, I attended the University of Western Australia. That was in Nedlands, another suburb. There as no tram route to the university, so I took the trolley bus. And that was also electric. It ran on rubber tires directly on the road, instead on on steel tracks. So it was quieter than the trams. Of course, I was still taking a tram from home to the city, then the trolley bus from the city to university.

A different era

We are now in a different era. In some ways, it was actually easier to get around back then than it is now. Public transportation really was a pretty efficient idea. But I doubt that we will ever go back to that.

3 Comments to “Reminiscence”

  1. Public transportation really was a pretty efficient idea. But I doubt that we will ever go back to that.

    We don’t have any choice but to do that (and a great many other things), if we’re to avoid catastrophe. Call that doomist hyperbole if you like, but replacing internal combustion engines with electric ones isn’t going to solve the problem (particularly bearing in mind that around half of the emissions generated by any motor vehicle — including EVs — arises during their manufacture).

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