One of the major problems with being a young person is transport. Of course, this all mainly applies to those people who live outside of Exeter, but it is a problem for anyone without a car.
Before I was at college in Exeter I barely came to the city and so had no idea about any events taking place. Now that I am no longer at the college, I have no reason to be in Exeter other than my own want to be there. For many, when you have to balance this want with busy lives and transport fares which, when you earn little already, can be pretty crippling, the result is that a lot of people tend to go into town far less than they would like to.
Either you are dependent on your parents (and thus their schedules and time restraints) or you are dependent on public transport which is generally limited for most people in Devon. It’s even worse if you want to go laterally across Devon because everything radiates from Exeter like a big spiders web. If you want to get from North Devon to Dartmoor by bus you have to go into Exeter and change doing two sides of a triangle and doubling the time and cost of the journey.
For many young people, getting the bus into Exeter or elsewhere for some event might be the first time they have had to catch a bus. The first time they have moved from socially trailing around after their parents to socially being reliant on themselves and their own initiative. This is quite a big jump for many and that change can be quite a big deterrent for some.
This is made worse because so many of the events occurring in Exeter are in the evenings, but most busses finish by 7 pm and trains are often not much better. Unless you are lucky enough to have friends in the city that you can crash with or a person with a car willing to drive in and pick you up, you really can’t make it. It all involves a lot of forward planning and spare time.
There was a time while I was at Exeter College where I was traveling for around 2.5 - 3 hours a day getting to and from college. At one point I worked out that if I was to take my bus journey as being an hour and a quarter one way, (it was usually slightly longer), then I was doing two and a half hours full journey time per day. And so if I was to travel by bus for every day in a standard school year of 190 days then I would be doing 475 hours of traveling per year, or a staggering 19.8 days. That is almost three weeks of unusable life that was spent trying to get to sleep while juddering along windy lanes. What was even more crazy was that there were a lot of people I knew who were making daily commutes longer than mine.
If any of us wanted to go into town for a weekend to meet up and chill, or go to some event we would have to repeat that journey. An idea that, to many I knew, became a rather bitter ordeal.
Poor transport can be one of the most limiting elements of life. Not being able to get around easily will massively reduce a person’s ability to take on or even find out about opportunities. And when that person lives out in the sticks, it can be really quite isolating.
Again I asked a load of creative people their opinions. Here’s their thoughts:
Polly (19) Artist and Photographer - The transport in Devon is always sketchy and most places you need a car to get to them. I wouldn’t say there’s anything, that I can’t think of, that’s particularly frustrating about Devon/Exeter in regards to creative opportunities, however before I was able to drive I did struggle to get around (however being friends with older people meant we generally car shared).
Freya (20) Actor and Singer - Absolutely because main opportunities or expansive connections are primarily based in the city centre and only "amateur" arts are really portrayed in local villages and towns.
Reuben (20) Musician and Filmmaker - Yes it is a struggle as in order to meet up with other creatives you have to either have a car or money. And even if you do have money to travel, the times are often so irregular that you cannot plan around them.
Grace (20) Artist - Transport is a problem if you don’t drive. But even so, everything is always still far away haha. Once I could drive it did make things a lot easier.
Harry (27) Filmmaker - Having a car greatly increased my potential for creative opportunities, but it also costs a lot to get around and is a detriment to my 'profit', but as a Filmmaker I normally have quite a bit of additional kit I need to haul around with me. I think if I was solely a photographer I would be more benefited by public transport.
You’ll notice that many of the above echo a similar thing. Cars! But here is the obvious problem, if you are not yet 17 then driving is not an option and even if you are older, owning a car is expensive. Particularly when starting out and particularly when you are already earning little. On a personal level I also don’t think we should be encouraging more people to drive, if only because it’s bad for the environment.
The irony is the more cars there are on the road, the less of a call there is for busses and other public transport. If busses were more regular, more reliable, more widespread, and more affordable they would become a lot more economic for most people than owning a car. We wouldn’t have to pay for parking or insurance, tax, MOT’s, general maintenance, tyres, fuel, let alone the car itself. As people swap to traveling by bus, this intern would make the greater services sustainable. The reduction in cars on the road would reduce the amount of time we all spend sitting in traffic jams and the amount of toxins we all pump into the atmosphere. It would make our high streets and country side lanes quieter and nicer places to walk, talk and play. The problem is the investment to make this happen would have to come first and sustained before the change from car dependency to public transport can occur. Anyway, enough of that.
To round this all off, Poltimore house where TYPify festival is being held is an easy drive (oh the irony) out towards Pinhoe and is also easy to get to and from by bus (and a short walk) from around 6 am to around 12 midnight. Just get off at Poltimore Gate bus stop. To make it even better the busses go roughly every 25 minutes. Here’s a couple of handy links.
The directions page on the official Poltimore House website: http://www.poltimore.org/location/directions/
The Address is: Poltimore House, Poltimore, Exeter, Devon. EX4 0AU
Come along and join us at Devon's only dedicated youth arts festival. TYPify is going on from the 6th – 8th July at the historic Poltimore House just outside of Exeter.