Why is it my student son finds it cheaper living in Essex than at home in Kent? And his girlfriend – also a student from Essex – is aghast at the expense? The reason – plain and simple – is our transport costs are about double those across the Dartford Bridge.
Take the bus from Tankerton to Canterbury, weaving around the houses for little more than seven miles, and you’re forking out the best part of a fiver. A peak time ticket to London for his summer job will set him back about the same as his flight to Ibiza.
It’s not just the cost. The trains in Essex run more frequently, they’re more punctual and – for anyone trying to have a nice doze en route – they have ‘quiet zones’ where chatter and mobiles are banned. Commuter heaven!
This might come as quite a shock but I am an Essex girl. My Essex-born mum, who moved also moved here several years ago, struggles to find buses to what should be normal routes – like Tunbridge Wells or
I moved to Whitstable because I loved it here. I still do.
In some ways, little has changed. And that’s part of the charm.
But it has a problematic side too. Kent is still playing catch up with Essex in terms of job opportunities, corporate activity and incomes. With inferior transport, Kent has a serious handicap.