Today is Tuesday, an exciting day for us because in general the buses don’t run on Sundays or bank holidays (Monday was one). We’ve had to take taxis the last couple of days in order to get to our trailheads. The cost of yesterday’s 20 minute taxi ride was comparable with the fuel cost for Eileen’s and my week-long van rental, but was the only way to get anywhere. It’s no wonder that all the locals drive cars.
In general, I've been impressed with Welsh buses. All the buses have free wifi and accept credit card tap-to-pay for fare — no special card needed. But there are major gaps in rural areas, even high-tourist areas like Pembrokeshire. The buses are all privately operated; as profit-seeking enterprises, they have no obligation to assure equitable or affordable access.
As someone highly involved in local politics at home, it's very interesting to see what the UK prioritizes with public funding, and what gets left out.
Obviously, as an American (and as a universal healthcare advocate with Whole Washington) I notice the difference in healthcare services.
Watching the woman get rescued from her waterfall accident, we saw two ambulances, ten or more aid workers including a helicopter dropoff, and a helicopter lift out to the Bangor hospital and an ambulance ride for her husband and many children to meet her.
"God," I asked a fellow bystander, "what is this all going to cost them?"
Aghast, they responded, "nothing, of course."
I knew this, of course, in theory. But it's a reflex to think about the cost; at home, smaller incidents regularly bankrupt people and families who thought they were doing fine. Helicopter fuel isn't cheap, and neither is emergency spinal care. But if you make healthcare a human right and a value of society, cost ceases to be the primary concern in a health emergency.
There's a lot more theory I will refrain from getting into. Imagine spending more as a country on healthcare than on killing machines.
My point isn't that government spending is more or less efficient here (I don't know). The federally funded Llanberis Slate Museum made absolutely no economic sense, but it's clearly considered a national treasure. There was a free museum of Welsh modern art in Machynlleth. We've seen towns with gorgeous modern libraries and towns where the library has been permanently closed.