In which we present a regular round-up of news from the world of Grown-up Travel
Could public transport in the UK ever be free?
In a month’s time, using Tallinn’s public transport system won’t cost a cent. Could we ever see similar moves here? Chris Beanland finds out.
Imagine if you got on the bus, Tube, train or tram this morning without paying. Imagine if you could travel into town, day in and day out, without ever paying a penny. From next year, this is exactly what you’ll be able to do if you live in the capital of Estonia. And you won’t even get arrested.
From New Year’s Day, Tallinn will become the world’s first capital city to offer a completely free public transport network – only visitors will have to fork out €1.60 (£1.30) for a ticket. Four tram lines, eight trolleybus lines, dozens of bus routes – all free for residents, all of the time.
Tallinn’s bold step has reignited the debate about whether free public transport in cities is something we should aspire to. Estonian opponents of the headline-grabbing move by the Tallinn Mayor Edgar Savisaar say it’s pork-barrel politics: a brazenly populist echo of Ken Livingstone’s 1981 Fare’s Fair campaign, where the Greater London Council slashed London Transport fares by a third.
Not so, counters Taavi Pukk from Savisaar’s Centre Party: “There’s no doubt that free public transport is the future.” Pukk points out that 75 per cent of respondents in Tallinn’s referendum on the issue voted “yes”, though turnout was low, just one-fifth of those eligible actually voted. Savisaar claims he’s set on turning Tallinn into Europe’s greenest city and tells us that, as well as helping the poor, the free transport move will get drivers out of their cars. Something for nothing is a compelling proposition: a spike in public transport use of 15 per cent is predicted.
ElBulli restaurant wines to be auctioned for estimated $1m
More than 8,800 bottles from the cellar of chef Ferran Adrià’s acclaimed Spanish restaurant to be sold by Sotheby’s.
More than 8,800 bottles of wines from the cellar of Spain’s world-renowned elBulli restaurant will be auctioned in Hong Kong and New York next April in sales that may exceed $1m (£624,000), Sotheby’s said on Wednesday.
The award-winning restaurant near Roses, in Calalonia, which has been headed by celebrated the chef Ferran Adrià for 27 years, was regarded by many as the best restaurant in the world. Before it closed last year to make way for the elBulli Foundation “creativity centre”, which will open in 2014, the restaurant had earned three Michelin stars and many other accolades for its gastronomic inventions.
Proceeds from the sale of the wines will benefit the foundation.
Adrià described the wines, which will be auctioned in Hong Kong on 3 April and in New York on 26 April “as an exceptional and unique collection.” He said in a statement that after elBulli transformed from a restaurant to a foundation: “We decided this very special and personal collection should be used to make a founding contribution to help ensure the successful launch of the elBulliFoundation.”
The wine cellar was created by elBulli director Juli Soler, who was instrumental in bringing Adrià to the restaurant, founded 50 years ago.
Highlights of the sale include 2,000 bottles of Spanish wine, including six vintages of Vega Sicilia “Unico” from 1987 to 1996, 415 bottles of Chateau de Beaucastel, as well as full cases of bottles and magnums of Chateau Latour 2005 and three bottles of Domaine de la Romanee Conti, Romanee Conti 1990, which have a pre-sale estimate of $32,500 to $47,500.
New airline to link Brighton and Paris
A new airline has been unveiled that promises to make visiting Paris easier for thousands of people in the south of England.
Brighton City Airways, owned by Neil Laughton, an adventurer, entrepreneur and aviation enthusiast, will fly up to four times a day from Shoreham Airport – about a mile west of Brighton – to the Pontoise-Cormeilles Aerodrome, 16 miles northwest of the French capital, from next year.
Should it prove successful, Mr Laughton hopes to offer services to other international destinations such as Brussels, Charleroi, Amsterdam and Calais, and domestic ones including Bristol, Exeter, Jersey and Manchester.
The airline will initially use a single 19-seater LET-410 UVP aircraft, loaned from a Czech firm, and is aimed at both business and leisure travellers seeking to avoid the “expense and hassle” of travelling via London.
“There must be a million and a half people in Sussex, Kent, Surrey and Hampshire for whom the quickest way of reaching Paris involves a trip all the way to St Pancras train station,” said Mr Laughton.
The airline claims residents in the south of England will be able to arrive in Paris just two and a half hours after leaving home – half the time currently taken when flying from Heathrow or Gatwick, or travelling on the Eurostar. Passengers will be allowed to check in just 15 minutes prior to departure, and can park directly outside Shoreham Airport’s terminal building.
And it says that prices will compare favourably with larger airlines and Eurostar trains, with fares ranging from £69 to £180 one-way, including all charges. It will also offer other novel services, including an option for passengers to change the name on their ticket until 48 hours before departure, free of charge.
Red tide of algae strikes 10 more Sydney beaches
A fresh concentration of red tide algae forced the closure of another 10 Sydney beaches yesterday as government authorities warned new blooms could occur anywhere between Sydney and the Central Coast.
Pittwater Council ordered all beaches between Palm beach and Turimetta beach on Sydney’s peninsula closed just before 3pm because of high concentrations of algae.
Two of the beaches – Palm beach and Whale beach – had already been closed because of fears the remains of a rotting dead whale was attracting sharks.
“There had been small traces of it in the morning but we were advised by Surf Lifesaving that the red tide had become heavier and so we closed the beaches in the afternoon,” a Pittwater Council spokeswoman said.
Clovelly in the eastern suburbs was also still closed yesterday because of the remains of a red tide which had tainted that beach, and also Bondi, on Tuesday.
The Metropolitan Sydney, South Coast and Hunter Regional Algal Co-ordinating Committees yesterday said they had warned “communities along coastal beaches between Sydney and the Central Coast about algal blooms.
“This bloom has likely occurred as a result of the upwelling of nutrient-rich deep ocean water on to the continental shelf,” they said.
“Testing of samples taken from Bondi beach have been identified as noctiluca scintillans, which appears as a pinkish to reddish discolouration in water.”