The crazy world of transport economics

I have to travel to San Francisco for a family funeral. I am going for what is an extended weekend and I looked up flights on lastminute.com and there were literally dozens available for under £400. I chose the cheapest as it was also the most convenient timing, Air Canada – via Vancouver – from Heathrow and it came to the amazing price of just £330 half of which is made up of taxes.
That is truly extraordinary since I travelled to Chester from London the other day and it cost me £117 return. The mileage prices work out at something like 29p for the train compared with 2.75p for the plane, a factor of 10. Transport economics are irrational and prices bear no relation to the economic damage caused by particular modes. Of course fares are lowest at this time of year after the school holidays are over but before business has really got going.
And working out what to do about it is another matter. Rationalising the system in the context of global economics does not appear feasible, though governments could do a lot more to encourage and discourage different modes according to environmental damage. Higher fares would not have dissuaded me from going for a funeral, but they would presumably put off those stag parties to Riga.

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