IELTS Topic: Transportation

Vocab & Idioms

Go over the following vocabulary and expressions with your tutor. Read the word/expression and definition out loud, and your tutor will go over anything you do not understand. Practice creating a sentence or two to make sure you know how to use the word/expression properly.

Vocabulary/ Expressions

Infrastructure (n) – the basic systems and services, such as transportation and power supplies, that a country or organization uses in order to work effectively
Vehicle (n) – something used to transport people or goods, especially something used on land or roads
Mode (n) – a way of operating, living, or behaving
Highway/Expressway/Freeway (n) – a public road, especially an important road that joins cities or towns together
Public Transportation (n) – a system of trains, buses, etc., that is paid for or run by the government
Subway/Metro (n) – an underground, electric railroad in a city
Speed up (phrasal verb) – to increase your speed
Fill up (phrasal verb) – to fill the fuel tank of a car full
Hitch a ride (idiom) – get a ride with somebody else
Gas Guzzler (idiom) – a vehicle that uses a lot of gas

Part 1 Questions

Here are possible questions that might come up during the test. Go over them with your tutor.

Topic

  • What’s the most popular means of transportation in you hometown?
  • Do you prefer public or private transportation?
  • What is your favorite mode of transportation?
  • Do you like riding a bicycle?

Part 2&3 Questions

Here are possible questions that might come up during the test. Go over them with your tutor.

Sample A

Part 2 Questions

  • Describe a vehicle you would like to have. You should say:
    • what vehicle it is
    • what it looks like
    • what it would be used for
    • and why you would like to own it.

Part 3 Questions

  • How do most people travel long distances in your country?
  • Have the types of transport people use changed much over the last few decades?
  • Do you think transport is likely to continue to improve in the future?

Sample B

Part 2 Questions

  • Describe a common transportation system for commuters in your city. You should say:
    • what type of system it is
    • who uses it
    • how convenient it is
    • and explain why you like or dislike it.

Part 3 Questions

  • Do you think the government should impose a restriction on citizens’ car ownership?
  • What kinds of improvement have there been in transport in your country in recent years?
  • How easy is it to travel around your country?

Sample C

Part 2 Questions

  • Talk about an uncomfortable way you have traveled. You should say:
    • what kind of transportation it was
    • who you were travelling with
    • where you were going
    • and why it was uncomfortable.

Part 3 Questions

  • Do you think that transport problems are worse in urban or rural areas?
  • What measures could be taken to reduce problems of congestion in cities?
  • Which method of travel do you consider safest?

Sample Answers

Here are some sample answers. Go over them with your tutor.

Part 1 Questions

  • What’s the most popular means of transportation in you hometown?
    • Being that I’m from a small town with a whopping population of about 18,000 residents, it’s, for sure, a car. We don’t have a public transportation system within the city limits.
  • Do you prefer public or private transportation?
    • Since I’m living in a big city right now, I favor public over private. On the other hand, if I was living in a small city or back in my hometown, I’m partial to private. I actually have a car in my hometown and miss driving it.
  • What is your favorite mode of transportation?
    • It depends on how far I’m traveling. For example, when I travel long distances, I prefer by airplane. If it’s a short distance, I’d rather use my own vehicle because it’s quick and timely unless I’m stuck on the highway in a traffic jam.
  • Do you like riding a bicycle?
    • My days of riding a bicycle are over. I’d much rather ride a Harley Davidson motorcycle, especially on a pleasant summer day.

Part 2&3 Answers

Here are some sample answers. Go over them with your tutor.

Sample A

Part 2 Questions

  • Describe a vehicle you would like to have. You should say:
    • what vehicle it is
    • what it looks like
    • what it would be used for
    • and why you would like to own it.

I always wanted a vintage motorcycle like a Harley Davidson or Indian. Everytime I see one on my internet news feed or on TV, I get the urge to find and buy one. These two motorcycle manufacturers have a long history and are well known throughout the world. I feel they are the most stylish bikes out there on the streets or in museums on display.

If I had to chose one of them, I think it would be a WWII era military model Harley Davidson because I have an interest in military vehicles, and they are unique in that they have special features like ammo boxes and special military colored paint.

I’m sure I would ride it on occasions, but only for short distances or to the local motorcycle meetups. Most of the time, it would be stored in my garage where it will be safe from accidents and the extreme weather conditions.

I think I started liking antique motorcycles after I took a tour of a Harley Davidson motorcycle plant and museum in York Pennsylvania about 15 years ago. In the museum, they had on display a model from every year starting from, umm, I think, 1903 when the company was founded. When I came across the military edition model, I became hooked. I knew I needed one right then and there.

The closest I came to getting one was back in 2001 when I bought my first Harley Davidson motorcycle, but it was a model year 2001 and non-military. Maybe someday my dream to have a WWII era HD will come true. For now, I will keep dreaming and hoping.


Part 3 Questions

  • How do most people travel long distances in your country?
    • Well, since traveling by air is a lot cheaper these days, I’m sure many people prefer to fly over any other mode of transportation . Not only is it less expensive, it’s also safer than, umm, driving a car. I heard this on a news documentary about air travel a couple of weeks ago. They said the safest way to travel is in an airplane. Furthermore, the percentage of accidents per year involving a plane are the lowest of any other vehicle.
  • Have the types of transport people use changed much over the last few decades?
    • According to recent news reports, three times as many people own and drive personal vehicles nowadays than 10 years ago. This is probably the number one reason why air pollution has skyrocketed in the last two decades. Another change in transportation I see is the use of motorbikes, more so in the cities. I think because they are less expensive to buy and maintain and they are quicker than cars when maneuvering through traffic jams. Motorbikes can weave in and out of traffic more easily.
  • Do you think transport is likely to continue to improve in the future?
    • No doubt in my mind there will be major improvements to the current transportation systems and infrastructure of the roads. With breakthroughs in technology, I think highways will become 2 or 3 tier roads, buses will be replaced by superfast trains, and ocean liners will be able to transport people faster than before. I don’t think during my time on this earth, but I believe someday cars will be similar to airplanes and actual fly down the roads in the air. With all the innovations in technology today, it’s all a possibility.

Sample B

Part 2 Questions

  • Describe a common transportation system for commuters in your city. You should say:
    • what type of system it is
    • who uses it
    • how convenient it is
    • and explain why you like or dislike it.

There aren’t many public transportation options in my small town because they are not necessary. Although, there’s a public bus system that takes people to and from the nearest city. I never used this system and really don’t have any idea about it. I do recall reading or hearing about it at some point in my life.

From my understanding, this service is a direct route starting near the square of my hometown to the square of the final destination. I believe there are several stops in between, however I have no idea where the bus stops are located on the major road. I can only imagine the stops are strategically located.

I would assume the people who take this bus don’t have their own cars and work in the city or are visiting family and friends. On second thought, maybe it could be commuters who work in the city and don’t want to drive their personally vehicles everyday. It’s hard for me to say why people use it.
When I was back in my hometown one time, I didn’t have a car and needed a way to get into the city. Since I knew about this bus system, I looked up the stops and times on the internet. I believe the pickup and drop off times were not suitable for me, so I found another way into the city. I think it was with my parents car.

I don’t know if the system is good or bad or if I like or dislike it. I never read any reviews about it or heard anyone mention the service the bus provides. In all honesty, I know it exists, but have little information about it. Maybe someday I will.


Part 3 Questions

  • Do you think the government should impose a restriction on citizens’ car ownership?
    • This is a thought provoking question, and I’m not sure what I think. Ok, in my viewpoint, I think it’s a good idea for one crucial reason, too many vehicles. Huge metropolitan cities have overcrowded highways and inner city streets. Not only is there a pollution problem, but there’s also a major traffic problem because the infrastructure can’t handle the mass amounts of cars on the roadways. By limiting car ownership it will decrease both problems. I was told by a person from China that such a law is currently in effect in Beijing.
  • What kinds of improvements have there been in transport in your country in recent years?
    • I can’t speak about the entire USA, but only for Pennsylvania the state I live in. I do know that the major toll road, the Pennsylvania Turnpike, has been going through some major construction to widen and resurface the roads. Right now the highway is a mess to travel on because of these construction projects, but once it’s finished it will be so much better and faster. Another area is transportation regulations for tractor trailers. For example, truck drivers can only drive a maximum of 10 hours total in a day compared to 14. I think this is an important regulation and will lower the number of accidents involving trucks significantly.
  • How easy is it to travel around your country?
    • I would have to say it’s fairly simple, unless you encounter some problems as traffic jams, accidents, flight delays, and road construction. Let’s take road construction for example. I drove from the east coast to the west coast last year and found it quite enjoyable until I encountered a road construction project. It was worse if it was in close proximity to a city. For example, I came across one in Chicago. Unbelievable! The congestion was terrible, not to mention some crazy drivers. Overall, I think it’s uncomplicated no matter if you are traveling by land or air.

Sample C

Part 2 Questions

  • Talk about an uncomfortable way you have traveled. You should say:
    • what kind of transportation it was
    • who you were travelling with
    • where you were going
    • and why it was uncomfortable.

I remember a time when I was in the U.S. Army and took a long unbearable military charter flight from Newark Delaware in the USA to Rhein-Main Air Base in Germany, which is near Frankfort. This was back in 1985 and I was only 18 at the time.

I was going to Germany to be stationed at a military establishment for 2 years, so I was excited about the trip. Little did I know that the flight was going to be one of the worst I ever had.

Let me start by saying the plane was full, or better yet, I would say overloaded with military personnel to include their carry on bags. All of the bags didn’t fit in the overhead compartments, so they were stored on the floor in various locations in the plane. Well, I was the unfortunate passenger who had what I would say, the worst seat in the house. I was seated in the row of seats with no row of seats in front of me. Guess what?! A lot of those extra carry on bags were placed in the little space in front of me. This made it so I couldn’t stretch my legs out. Right then and there, I knew I was in for a cramped and intolerable 8-hour flight.

As I expected, the flight was horrible. I couldn’t sleep, and I don’t think I got up once during the flight. I sat there for the entire time wishing I was at my destination sooner than later.

Once I arrived at the airport, I was beyond happy to get off the plane and stretch my legs and walk around a bit. I wouldn’t wish this type of experience even on my worst enemy. It was definitely a trip I wanted to forget and never relive again. Luckily, until this day i haven’t taken another flight like it.


Part 3 Questions

  • Do you think that transport problems are worse in urban or rural areas?
    • By a mile, city living has far worse issues than the countryside. I’m originally from a semi rural area in Pennsylvania, and I live in the capital city of Bangkok. City life here is by far a lot more hectic and downright outrageous when it comes to traffic concerns. The roads are awful and the infrastructure of the inner city roads are downright dangerous due to heavy traffic. Public transportation is non-existent in the country, so there’s nothing to compare.
  • What measures could be taken to reduce problems of congestion in cities?
    • I think there are a couple of things that can be done to help this situation. For one, ask residents to take the subway and bus system instead of driving their cars. Maybe an incentive like discounted rates would entice them to use public transportation. A second one, to ban all vehicles from driving on specific days by license plate number. For instance, license plates beginning with 5 can’t drive on the first Monday of every month. A third one, restrict gas guzzling vehicles from driving in the city during rush hour.
  • Which method of travel do you consider safest?
    • According to some research I heard in the news, the experts say traveling via air is the safest because there are fewer airplane accidents than any other mode of transportation. I tend to agree with this research. Even though you here about a deadly accident involving a plane, it’s not often. Now take cars for example. I hear everyday about fatal car accidents in the news or on social media and it’s not just one. It seems to be driving a road vehicle is the most dangerous form of transportation.

Wrap-up

Go over any new expressions or vocabulary that you learned today.

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