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Problems of public transport

13.12.2010

However crowded the roads are, British car owners usually find a reason not to switch to public transport. The buses are too slow, or the trains are too expensive, or no public services actually take them where they want to go. In many cases, these are just the excuses of people who really want to sit in their own cars with the radio on, and who blame others for creating the traffic jams. But there is also some truth in their criticisms. There has been a serious lack of government investment in transport, with predictable consequences.


The London Underground or the Tube, as Londoners call it, started in 1863 as the first underground line in the world, and is still the longest, with over 400 kilometres of lines. When it is working well, it is extremely quick and efficient. But those who use it every day complain of terrible delays when things go wrong. The electrical engineering is old, and it breaks down frequently. And government failed to invest the huge sums of money which would be needed to bring the Tube up to the 21st century standards.


One particular failure has been a cause of considerable embarrassment to the British since the opening of the Channel Tunnel. Eurostar trains from Paris travel at up to 300 kilometres per hour in France, but have to slow down to 80 kilometres per hour once in Britain because the high-speed line has not yet been built. Parliament only made the decision to build the line after the tunnel had opened. This sad story seems to symbolise all the country’s transport problems.


Answer the questions.

  • When did private car ownership start growing rapidly?
  • Why did public transportation lose its dominant role?
  • Why did railways cut lines and stations?
  • Why was government happy to see the railway wither away?
  • Why did roads become overcrowded?
  • What was the solution for overcrowded roads?
  • What strange phenomenon occurred after building the new road?
  • What is M25? Why was it built? What happened to it immediately?
  • What psychological effect does car driving have on human beings?
  • What is “road rage” and why does it happen?
  • Why don’t road accident figures increase with number of vehicles on the road?
  • What can you say about seat belt laws for vehicle drivers and passengers in Britain?
  • What side of the road do British drive on?
  • Do they plan to change? Why?
  • What other countries drive or used to drive on the left?
  • Why don’t British car owners shift to public transport?
  • What does British transport lack seriously?
  • What is the common name of London Underground?
  • Does the Tube work according to the 21st century standards? Why?
  • What has been a cause of considerable embarrassment to the British since the Channel Tunnel was opened?
  • Vocabulary

  • windscreen — лобовое стекло
  • rear window = back window — заднее стекло
  • side window — боковое стекло
  • windscreen-wiper, steering wiper (AmE) — дворник на лобовом стекле
  • back wiper — задний дворник
  • bonnet (BrE) = hood (AmE) — капот
  • boot(BrE) = trunk (AmE) — багажник
  • short range light — ближний свет
  • long-range light — дальний свет
  • headlights — фары
  • head lamps (AmE) — передние фары
  • tail lamps (AmE) — задние фары
  • indicator — индикатор поворота
  • spoiler — спойлер
  • front — передний
  • rear — задний
  • steering wheel — руль
  • backward movement — задний ход
  • number plate — табличка с номером автомобиля
  • wing — крыло
  • bumper — бампер
  • seatbelt — ремень безопасности
  • wheel — колесо
  • five-spoke cast aluminum wheel — литое пятиспицевое алюминиевое

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