Yesterday, I had the pleasure of a couple of hours spent (in a very ‘last-minute’ action) travelling out to Paraparaumu, with a crew of Bowen staffers and some local Green supporters, to join with Co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons in a small media stunt, ‘door-stepping’ John Key on climate change policy as he passed through Coastlands Mall on his campaign trail.

Jeanette on the train

Jeanette on the train

We travelled comfortably, Jeanette opening her briefcase & reviewing some documents as we journeyed, at one point. We had no security personnel, we were casually attired, and we did not ask for, or need, a security escort by Police.

How different was the scene surrounding Mr Key – such a lot of staff, media from both networks and the print outlets, and lo! a contingency of Police shadowing him around the very dangerous environs of the Coastlands Mall. Our spotters in the carparks had seen the cavalcade of crown cars arriving, not a difficult group to spot! I had never before considered a Muffin Break café to be a possibly dangerous place, but then I haven’t been trained by the FBI.
Jeanette’s comments on the exchange with John Key

Debriefing over a quick lunch

Debriefing over a quick lunch

We stayed there long enough for the media to disperse, and to do some quick networking with Mana and Horowhenua Greens who had come to support the activity. Some of us ate some lunch, and then we all caught the 1pm service back to town.
Train staff were interested in what we’d been doing, and we had quite an informal discussion on the economy, the future of rail services, and how the cost of living is escalating, with two very friendly and articulate guards in our suburban unit train. To the incidental infotainment of the other passengers in our section …

It was a lovely day out on the Coast, and the views from the train are stunning. Now we just need to get a bit more money put into improving maintenance on the tracks, and getting some new rolling stock up and running, and we’ll once again have a KiwiRail service that is efficient, commodious, and ready to fill the gap that rising oil prices and climate change initiatives have created in our public transport needs.


Flipping through frogblog today, I found this post What politicians dare not say except for the Greens, which reminded me of a small viral campaign run a few years ago against SUV drivers, parked in public carparks here and there, so I thought I’d share this with you., yes, YOU!, yes, YOU!

These came as stickers, some full size for the really enormous bumpers, and some half that, for the less extravagant over-consumers.
As a quick aside, could my esteemed friend overseas get in touch, if she still knows where the printable jpeg/pdf files are? 😉

These days, they could be attached to supermarket trolleys at the Warehouse, the way credit-card marketing has turned everyone with a credit rating into an overconsuming member of the national household debt figures.

Wellington Transport Strategy Launch
Getting you home faster, cheaper, greener!

When: Wednesday 22 October at 8.30am

Where: Wellington Bus Depot (close to the railway station – outside Victoria University’s Rutherford House) where we will have a bus parked up with our Green signage on it.

What: Candidates from all over the province will travel in by train and bus to meet at the bus depot to launch the strategy. Sue K will give a short speech at about 8.40am and we will hand out copies of the Wellington Transport Strategy to the public.

TV3 will be filming the launch so please come out and support us on your way to work!

Edit: Here’s the update on how it went.

On a wet and windy morning, Green MP’s Russel Norman and Sue Kedgley joined regional candidates Lynette Vigrass, Virginia Horrocks, Gareth Hughes and Michael Gilchrist for a launch of Wellington regional public transport policy, travelling by train and bus and convening in the Lambton bus terminal. They were joined by a staunch group of supporters, who had braved a typical nor’westerly to join in this effort.

New bus ad’s being carried on Go Wellington Trolley buses were launched, with much flair, and attendance by TV3 and photographers from print media, as well as our inhouse film maestro, James.

Leafletting was carried out at the bus terminal and railway station, and then supporters jumped onto a chartered trolleybus, to ride the route down to Courtney Place, stopping to leaflet at Cuba & Manners Malls along the way.

Lynette Vigrass, Hutt South Candidate, with Michael Gilchrist, Mana

Lynette Vigrass, Hutt South Candidate, with Michael Gilchrist, Mana

Virginia Horrocks, Hutt South candidate, speaking with campaigner Fleur Fitzsimons

Virginia Horrocks, Hutt South candidate, speaking with campaigner Fleur Fitzsimons

Some leakage of supporters occurred, as those heading off to work slipped away, but we maintained a core crew to leaflet the Malls and Courtney Place, before dispersing at the National Office.

Gareth Hughes, Ohariu candidate, speaking with Micheal Pringle from National Office

Gareth Hughes, Ohariu candidate, speaking with Micheal Pringle from National Office

Policy is here Wellington transport policy

I’ve been having a small holiday in Auckland, visiting relatives. I haven’t been up there for a while, despite having regular pokes at Aucklanders I know about their ailing transport system over recent months.

I arrived via the Overlander, a trip I’ve always wanted to make, which was mildly disappointing, as we were transhipped from the train onto buses to be taken around a derailment on the line in between National Park and Hamilton – thus missing the Raurimu Spiral, one of the great pieces of railway track engineering in the world. Sigh. Best laid plans, etc … The train got to Britomart terminal a little late, but my family were there to collect me, so it wasn’t a huge holdup.

I travelled around during the weekend in private vehicles, visiting and celebrating with friends and relatives of my family, not looking too shabby for traffic problems. The working week began, and I took some time to recover; by Tuesday, I was ready to explore, having stated my intention to use public transport as much as possible to my daughter. From her home to the local Westfield Mall, easy-peasy – one stage on the Ritchies bus line, almost door-to-door, and a simple journey to organise.

But what a surprise when I got to the Mall! I had heard that this was a brand-new Westfield, but as I’ve seen this brand of shopping mall before, I was expecting a bit more of the same-old, same-old. First, it was the biggest car-park I’ve seen in a long time. The bus station, for Park & Ride, also had a big carpark, but not as big as the one at the Mall!

Mall, from ring road, with ominous large field undeveloped...

Mall, from ring road, with ominous large field undeveloped...

And the surrounding area has many more collections of shops, most of the usual suspects for mega-malls, so this huge car-park was accompanied by several large, but not quite as huge, carparks.
All I could think of was, how on earth did the planners of this development so badly underestimate the effects of peak oil on their development, and how could the public transport access be improved to recover this situation?
There was also a large half-built development (more shopping?), and a large field between the Mall and the bus station, which I walked across to the amusement of locals driving to the carpark.

The rest of the week gave me opportunities to travel to the CBD and Uni on a variety of bus services, at a variety of prices, and with varying amounts of commuting time.

The bus arriving at a Northern Busway station

The bus arriving at a Northern Busway station

Quickest run was the Express bus from Albany Park’n’Ride station to Britomart, along the Northern Busway – bus stations that look like a swept-up version of the Hutt Valley suburban rail stations! – and my slowest trip was after attending a Women’s Debate from AU Debsoc, then getting lost; 90 mins to find the bus (the stop turned out to be several blocks uphill, on Albert St), then an hour to get to the North Shore suburb I was staying in.
Express bus at Britomart, end of inbound route

Express bus at Britomart, end of inbound route

I found the MAXX map at Britomart unclear and confusing; checking the Welli version in the Lambton bus terminal this week, I’m sure that our bus mapping is easier to read. But I’m prolly not the best to evaluate that, since I’m so familiar with our local public transport services!
Auckland also has around five separate bus companies servicing the different regional authorities, which means that CBD bus stops are heavily congested, adding to my confusion. Yeah, country bumpkin territory! I stuck to just the services to the North Shore, not adventuring further.

My journey home to Welli was again on the Overlander – this time I did get to film the Raurimu spiral, which I may post up somewhere, once my flatmate teaches me how to use the editing software. I’m very glad that the train is still on that route, it was an exceptional journey and quite rightly ranks as one of the great train rides of the world. I remember friends from Auckland taking the overnight train back in the day, and I marvelled at them wanting to sleep when some of the greatest scenery in NZ was passing by their windows, even then.

As an exercise in experiencing as much public transport as possible, it was interesting, if not very practical. Cost wasn’t a motivator, and I didn’t save much time. I noticed the express buses in the morning rush seemed to get into the CBD at a quicker rate than the off-peak services; and there were fare reductions for certain types of travel options, just as bus/train does in Welli via TransMetro.

Overall, Auckland public transport needs a big overhaul, and Jeanette’s transport policy statements this week give some direction for that. I’ll be less scathing to my Auckland friends who drive to work everyday, at least for the mean time. But I’ll still call out for better public transport for them to access, since ‘more roads’ is not the answer to this particular question.

Le Matt Juste

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