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BBC 6 minute English-Global traffic jam

BBC 6 minute English-Global traffic jam

BBC 6 minute English-Global traffic jam


Transcript of the podcast

Rob: Hello, I’m Rob, welcome to 6 Minute English. I’m joined today by Jennifer

Jennifer: Hi there, Rob

Rob: Thanks for joining me. Now, this year the BBC is looking into the future, in key areas of science, politics, education and our personal life in a series called ‘What If…’. One of the questions it’s asking is ‘What if everyone had a car?’ and that’s what we’re discussing today and we’ll be looking at some of the language associated with driving and traffic

Jennifer: Well, living in London, I know all about traffic, especially traffic jams – that’s where too many cars, lorries and buses get stuck in long queues on the road

Rob: Yes, they are stuck together, just like jam! And it’s a big problem in cities around the world. It could be the situation that one day, all the traffic becomes one long queue and we have a global traffic jam! Today, we will be hearing about some possible solutions that may prevent this problem from happening. But first, I think it’s only fair that we begin today’s journey with a question

Jennifer: And this question is for me I suppose

Rob: It is. On the subject of traffic jams, your question today is this. In 2010, one of the world’s longest jams occurred in Beijing in China. Do you know how long it was? Was it

a) 50 kilometres

b) 100 kilometres

c) 200 kilometres

Jennifer: They’re all very long but I think I will go for a) 50 kilometres

Rob: OK, well let’s find out if you are right at the end of the programme. So we’re discussing the question, what if everyone had a car? It’s quite a worrying thought because already there are a billion cars in the world. And it is estimated – or predicted – that by 2050 there will be 4 billion cars

Jennifer: That really would cause some serious gridlock – that means roads in towns and cities are so blocked that traffic is unable to move

Rob: It’s like that now in some developing countries where there has been a huge increase in car ownership; as people become wealthier, they want to own a car. But in one Indian city for example, that’s a big problem, as we can hear now from the BBC’s Theo Leggett. What word does he use to describe the chaotic mix of different types of vehicles

Theo Leggett, BBC correspondent

This is Mumbai, the commercial capital of India, a fast growing city and a potent symbol of India’s recent economic success. But it has a problem or to be more precise it has 1.8 million problems. That’s how many motor vehicles there are here, a maelstrom of cars, lorries, auto rickshaws and motorbikes, all crammed into roads that can’t cope with this much traffic

Rob: That’s Theo Leggett in Mumbai – a city which he describes as a potent symbol – a powerful symbol – of India’s economic success. But that success has come at a price – in other words, there is a negative side to the story

Jennifer: Yes – the traffic, which he describes as a maelstrom – so a confusing, chaotic mix of vehicles which are crammed – bumper to bumper, so squeezed closely together in the city’s streets

Rob: So when the commuters start their journeys – or get behind the wheel – in the morning rush-hour – the busiest time of day – they could spend hours just trying to make a relatively short journey to work

Jennifer: Well I think it would be quicker to walk! That’s certainly a good option in London, where research has found that traffic is slower now than it was 100 years ago

Rob: So is this the end of the road for cars

Jennifer: You mean will we stop using them? I think not. And Bjorn Lomborg, Director of Copenhagen Consensus Centre, agrees. Even with good public transport – that’s bus and train services – he says we love our cars. What does he think the solution is

Bjorn Lomborg, Director of Copenhagen Consensus Centre

The solution is not, as many would like it to be, to cut back on cars because people want cars, the solution will have to be technological to find smart ways of getting less polluting cars and cars that can pack much tighter and get much more efficiently around town.

Rob: Right – so the solution is technological. Better technology to make cars less gasguzzling, so using less fuel, which causes less pollution and they need to be smaller too

Jennifer: Yes, one company is already designing an M.I.T. City car which actually folds. Another is designing a thinner car with two wheels – like a motorbike but more stable

Rob: And I’ve heard about self-driving robot cars that can save space on the road by driving closer to the car in front. All very clever ideas. But there is one thing you can’t change – and that’s the driver! And come on, Jen, who’s the worst – men or women drivers

Jennifer: It’s definitely men! Women drivers are very safe at all time in my experience

Rob: I thought you’d say that! There’s one thing you can’t change – your answer to today’s question. Earlier, I asked you, in 2010, one of the World’s longest jams occurred in Beijing in China. Do you know how long it was

a) 50 kilometres

b) 100 kilometres

c) 200 kilometres

Jennifer: And I guessed a) 50 kilometres

Rob: And, I’m afraid you were wrong – a bit too short. This traffic jam was 100 km long. It happened on the Beijing to Tibet Expressway and lasted 12 days! I wouldn’t like to have been stuck in that. OK Jennifer, before we go, could you remind us of some of the words we learned today

Jennifer: Yes. We heard

traffic jams gridlock a maelstrom bumper to bumper get the behind the wheel the end of the road gas-guzzling

Rob: Thanks Jennifer. Well, that’s it for today

Both: Bye

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