Northern Busway: Fisking the Herald

For Aucklanders, traffic is big, right up there with property prices and ‘How’s my hair?’. THAT big. So when I moved to the Shore (love makes you do crazy things, team), getting to work weighed heavily on my mind. I mean, Shore traffic is crap, right? The Northern Motorway is one big car park, right? Turns out I was wrong, the Shore is a haven of public transport – but not according to the Herald. Jump to find out why Granny Herald is talking out its delivery bay.

Like many Kiwis, my morbid fear of public transport was broken on my OE. What’s not to like? There’s reading time, no parking, and you can get home easily and cheaply when you’re drunk. Best of all you don’t have to battle Auckland’s motorways, where the most mild-mannered person goes through a werewolf-like transformation into a slavering, horn leaning cretin. It’s not nice.

So imagine my delight to discover there was actually a pretty decent bus service, thanks to the Park and Ride stations, and it was only going to get better with the Northern Busway, two gleaming lanes of new tarmac solely for buses. Perfect. The lanes were opened for testing in December, and all of a sudden it was only 15 minutes from Constellation drive to Britomart. Magic.

But, trust the Herald to stick a fly in the bus driver’s jam sandwich. On Monday, the FIRST DAY the new lanes opened, they set three reporters racing from Campbell’s Bay into town, and declared the car the winner. There’s two (main) reasons this test was flawed:

A. It’s school holidays. Instead of forcing children to walk to school barefoot through the frost like it was in my day, Auckland parents drive their kids to school every day in a Hummer. And you know what chaos loads of Hummers can bring, with Iraq being the prime example.

B. The two reporters travelling by bus were held up by a breakdown in the bus lane, while the reporter in the car breezed by in the inside lanes. No fair!

If this test was performed a dozen times, the park and ride bus would trounce the car by some distance – and it’s loads quicker the other way, when traffic can be pretty horrendous. To me, it’s kinda sneaky of the Herald to say cars are quicker.

In fairness, Errol Kiong who travelled by car had the good humour to write “I can’t help but feel I’ve helped doom the planet.”, while cumudeonly Campbell’s Bay resident John Roughan happily admitted he didn’t know where his local park and ride WAS, before signing off with “And do I miss the car really? Yes, I do.” Good on ya John, good luck with the gridlock and the Classic Hits breakfast crew, fella.

Admittedly, it’s sometimes fiddly to make connecting buses or trains, and when you mention it’s $4.30 each way, people say “well, I may as well bring my car!”, but I got to travel to work this morning with my girl, in great time, with a spectacular view of the harbour and city on a cloudless day on one side, and a clogged motorway full of stressed people sitting alone in their cars on the other. And I’ll be having a few beers after work tonight while John Roughan’s stuck on the bridge wishing he’d got around to fixing his aircon. To me, that’s a no-brainer.

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5 Responses

  1. Wait a second, you’re from The Shore? I don’t remember you mentioning that part in your application to join the Aucklandista! Next we’ll be letting people from the Hutt into the Wellingtonista or something!

    But oh yes, man that Herald article pissed me off. You can’t judge something by one day. What if that was the day that Godzilla decided to tapdance across the harbour bridge? That’s going to skew the results a little!

  2. […] You can read the original over on the Aucklandista […]

  3. And why did the Herald have to put teething problems in quotes – ‘teething problems’. Are the insinuating that these were just excuses? Give me the bus any day. With my brand new iPods touch I can watch podcasts on the way to work and relax while others get to sit in traffic. Absolute Magic!

  4. It shocks me how some people just avoid public transport.

    When I was getting the bus back from the Big Day Out, I heard one guy say to his girlfriend, “Wow, the buses are getting quite flash these days.” And it wasn’t even the newest model Stagecoach have, but the slightly clunkier earlier one that was impressing this guy.

    Though perhaps if I let such people believe that 90% of Stagecoach’s fleet are those rattly old ARA buses, then there’s more room on the buses for me!

  5. It is possible to function in Auckland if you don’t own a car, but you do need within a certain radius of the CBD and on a good bus route.

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