Just as Odysseus had to travel enormous distances and overcome many trials to return home to his beloved Penelope, a team of intrepid Green Party members set out with me this morning on a trip of epic proportions. We tried to get from the end of the Onehunga rail line to Auckland Airport using public transport.
When you stop laughing, let me tell you just what an epic it turned out to be, to travel just 7 km as the crow flies, or 11 km by the shortest road route. Read on, or take a minute to view a map of the journey at EveryTrail.com.
First up we had to walk from the site of the proposed new Onehunga rail station to the site of the actual bus station. Great urban planning – put the rail station half a km away from the connecting bus. It was an easy seven and a half minute stroll, but it would be most annoying toting children, luggage, groceries or in the rain.
Then we waited for the bus, which arrived on time but left 8 minutes late. Saane, who was waiting with us at the bus shelter, was going home after night shift working at a rest home and obviously counting the minutes as she had to get some sleep before the children came home and she had to cook dinner and leave for work again. The bus trip was pleasant enough – friendly driver, friendly passengers who were very interested in taking our leaflet and lots of buzz about our plans for better public transport in Auckland.
It took 16 minutes to Mangere town centre where we had to change buses. During the 13 minute wait we ran in to some children from Bader Intermediate who hailed us like long lost friends and offered to have a photo with us.
The final bus trip to the airport (15.5 minutes) wandered through Mangere Bridge and the suburbs – great for people who live there to have a bus to their local community centre, but a bit frustrating for people wanting to get to the airport.
The whole journey was 1 hour 20 minutes to travel 16.5 km. We could have done it faster by first taking a bus backwards towards the city and connecting up with the Airbus which travels a direct route to the airport from the CBD, but at a cost of $16.50.
The point of this exercise was to illustrate the need for a fast rail link to our largest international airport. Every European city I have traveled to has a train that leaves from the airport terminal and goes straight to the CBD. If Auckland wants to be an international city, it needs to do that too. If Auckland wants its share of the tourist dollar, it needs to make it easier to get around.
That’s what the Greens plan to do.