Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Thank you driver!

My German homegirl once told me when she first moved to NZ and people yelled out 'thank you driver' on the bus, she assumed that she had a phenomenally popular bus driver who everyone knew. No one would bother to show such random appreciation in Berlin and she couldnt believe it when we told her it was just a thing everyone does here. She was surprised and thrilled even squeaking her very own exit shout-out the following morning.

I yell this 4 times a day because I have to catch 2 buses to get to Dominion Rd from Grey Lynn. This is a 10 minute drive by car. I been bussing everywhere in this fine land of ours since I was 10. I don't have an automobile, I don't have a licence, its partly eco footprint, cant be fucked walking, and the fact that once I realised I could survive the art of bussing from out south into the city as a pre-teen (4 stages and 70 minutes later) I could survive anything.

When people talk about public transport overseas, how cheap, convenient and accesible it is a lo-fi girl like me gets watery eyes. I went to Korea and Japan earlier in the year and the modes over there blew my mind. Every 1 second a train takes you to exactly where you need to go for a cheap price that lasts you all day. The tube in London disturbed me but I appreciated its curt convenience all the same. Everything seemed to.... work.

In Aotearoa everyday I'm on some clunker-mobile that needs a face-lift or I'm on some wanna-be MOTAT future bus. Every six months the price goes up (probably to install plasma screens that loop ads about the bus wtf). Our public transport system seems to be run by stoners ("hey sorry I'm late maaaaan") and any city council move to improve it seems like they've also had hash cookies, except they've watched Blade Runner twice beforehand (Britomart must be on some delayed gratification trip cos I'm yet to see the difference between the bus system today and when I was a kid).

At present, Auckland has a population of 1.3 million with an increase rate of 2% per year where the car-growing rate is about 4% i.e. twice the population growth. In fact people are facing traffic congestion all over the region in motorways and also in arterials. Congestion cost is about $1.00 billion a year in Auckland region.

Hey, um if you wanna get people using public transport, saving petrol, the planet and minimising cars on the road - how bout you make it so that our buses don't resemble the friendly erratic hick that stops to pick up the hitch-hiker in the Colgate Saturday Night feature.

Confused but bus-rider 4 life.

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