January 13

How to Talk About Transport Problems in C1 Speaking

How do you talk about transport problems in English with confidence?

Let’s find out!


Hello, this is Kristian from Cambridge Advanced Speaking, how are you doing? It’s a pleasure to share another lesson with you. 

If you didn’t know, I run the website Get Ready For Success, where you can find the audio, the lesson notes, and even the video of this episode.

I create and share all these materials, because I want to help you speak better English and get a high mark in your C1 Speaking Exam.

In this lesson about transport problems, you will learn vocabulary and phrases to help you speak confidently on this topic.

First we will look at different types of transportation, both public and private. Next, I’ll give an overview of current transport problems with help from an interesting question. Finally, I will share 4 idioms you can use to talk about transport problems + 1 bonus idiom that nobody should not take literally.

Public and Private Transportation

Every city has its own transportation system, including both private and public vehicles. 

Examples of public transportation are:

Bus, coach, train, plane, ferry, cruise ship, taxi, cab, bicycles for rent, rickshaw, tuk-tuk, tram, subway, (metro, tube)

If you talk about private transportation, you could mention:

Cars, motorbikes, bicycles, jets, yachts, boats, vans, scooters

Okay, now let’s look at words and phrases you can use to talk about transport problems.

What Are The Main Problems With Transportation Systems In Your Country?

I’m going to talk about 3 problems that are typical for transportation systems.     

  1. Overcrowding
  2. Traffic jams 
  3. Delays / reliability


First, let’s address the problem of overcrowding. This happens usually in peak hours (rush hour). Overcrowding is when people are squeezed into confined spaces; trains, metros, and buses are chock full. You can talk about packed trains or overcrowded buses. You could also say that commuters are crammed, people are packed like sardines. (In the final part of this episode I’ll get back to this idiom). 

Traffic jams 

Problem number 2: traffic jams. Here we can think of cars and buses that are driving on the road. Roads can be congested and then unfortunately, you get stuck in traffic

Sometimes accidents can result in bottlenecks on the road, but more often than not it’s just a result of bad city planning. In that case the city has an outdated road network. It means that the city’s infrastructure cannot cope with the rising numbers of private car ownership. 

Engineering works is another reason for traffic jams. Commuters then face difficulties such as road closures and detours which in turn cause lengthy tailbacks and bring traffic to a standstill

Delays / reliability

The third problem you could address is delays / reliability. Trains are delayed (or: running late) or even cancelled. This problem is exacerbated by the lack of investment in new trains and infrastructure by train operators. Of course, you could also mention  buses, trams or metro systems when you talk about this problem. It really depends on the situation in your country.   

Idioms to talk about transport

Now, let’s look at some idiomatic expressions.

First of all, I got to the train station in the nick of time = just in time

It’s already 6 o’clock and time we hit the road, otherwise we might miss our flight = to leave / start a journey 

She’s always complaining that the trains are running late, but we’re all in the same boat =  to be in the same unpleasant situation as other people     

We were squashed like sardines in the rush-hour train = If people are packed or squashed like sardines, they are positioned very close together so that they cannot move.

I’m not going to throw my colleague under the bus for something he did in his private life = to do something harmful to someone else in order to gain an advantage for yourself

Closing notes

That’s it! Loads of vocabulary and idioms to help you talk about transport problems in English and with confidence.

I hope you enjoyed this episode! If you did, please share it with someone who could benefit from it.

If you have any questions about this lesson, or any feedback, anything you would like me to add or clarify, then do get in touch with me. You can email me at: kristian@getreadyforsuccess.com – I’d love to hear from you.

In the meantime, go and check out my website, Get Ready For Success. If you’re preparing for Cambridge C1, it’s a great place, full of interesting stuff.

All right, that’s all from me. Take care of yourself, and each other.

Speak soon my friends

About the Author

As a Dutch proficient speaker of English, Kristian not only holds a grade A Cambridge C2 certificate but is also CELTA qualified. His five years of experience as a teacher and ESL exam coach, specialising in Cambridge English C1, C2, and IELTS, has equipped him with a unique blend of skills to guide and support your English learning journey.

  • Your podcasts are a tremendous help in preparation for my upcoming exam, Kristian. Please go on producing similarly useful content. I also have a request if I may: what about an episode including some handy phrases and expressions of contrasting and comparing (like 2 pics during the speaking part of an exam)? Thanks for considering it and for everything you are doing here. 🙂

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