Something’s not right.
As my father is fond of saying, I have a high intake of diesel fumes. Sitting in a trishaw or walking, you get a good face level blast of the toxins from our ancient buses and modern diesel trishaws like that shitbox Piaggio. And hey guess what, last month the WHO concluded that “diesel engine exhaust causes lung cancer in humans” (via LBO). In his column my dad is now calling for diesel three-wheelers to be banned outright, which I think is good. But I also think they have to do something about the buses.
There are clean diesel cars in Europe and around, but the shitbox Piaggio Ape trishaws and Lanka Ashok Leyland buses are straight dirty. I refer to the Piaggios as shitboxes because, while larger than the usual tuk, they are insanely noisy and polluting. They suck and should be banned, just as two-stroke trishaws were banned years back. The buses, however, I think are a bigger problem. The government subsidy on diesel (since revised) went largely to them and they are ancient. It feels like we’ve had the same buses since I was a kid, or they’re importing vintage ones.
These buses suck on multiple levels, ranging from comfort to safety, but they also spew cancerous exhaust, right in my face. The government imported some modern city buses and parked them across from Galle Face Green, but I’ve managed to catch them like never. Sometimes I see them passing and I want to get in (even though I’m not going anywhere), but it’s not like they’ve replaced the usual cancer, death and discomfort machines.
So the Piaggio’s need to be banned for sure, and diesel needs to be taxed to death, not subsidized (the latter subsidy has dropped recently). Perhaps more importantly, however, the entire bus and public transit sector needs to be reformed on multiple levels. People are dying out here. Slowly.