There are two ways of looking at the story we carry today about a potential Solent-long tram line.
Taking the cynical angle, it’s just political posturing from our neighbours to the west – a Southampton council leader who is raising a populist, and no doubt popular, idea even if it has little to no chance of ever coming into reality.
This theory is bolstered by the fact that our local council leaders, Sean Woodward and Donna Jones think it isn’t going to happen – the former has labelled the idea ‘pie in the sky’ and latter says this is the first she has heard of it.
So, we could be dismissive and just ignore it.
However, the real, constant and sadly permanent state of traffic gridlock across the area means that we can’t afford to, nor should we, just dismiss these schemes as politicking.
Instead, we should welcome a chance to keep the issue of improving public transport at the forefront of the political agenda, because without pressure, it’s unlikely, in these straitened times, that we will get cash for anything.
In an ideal world a tram could be the answer – but this ideal world would have an infinite amount of money to fund schemes for the greater good, and is clearly not the world in which we live.
However, rather than just admitting defeat, let’s hope our political leaders continue to examine every option to improve the lot of people trying to move around the Solent region.
Because everyone who works in Southampton and lives in Portsmouth, and vice versa, or who just simply tries to travel around the two cities at busy periods, knows that action is needed.
A tram, a ‘smart’ motorway, a train line with a larger capacity and faster trains, hell, even a big travelator will do if it helps people get around more quickly.
But we won’t get anywhere – literally –with just sneering and cynicism. What we need is discussion, and pressure.
So let’s keep the issue in the spotlight until we see something to ease the real travel problems in this region.