This week, electric trains were all the rage. It was embarrassing, really. Politicians rode them around with what seemed like pleasure but was probably just bewildered relief.
Finally, they must have been thinking, Auckland has unwillingly pushed a fingertip into the 21st century.
I did not experience the same rush at seeing electric trains scooting around Auckland’s inconveniently-sited railway lines.
I felt mostly anxious humiliation. I mean, we call ourselves a big city. We act like we’re a big city. We walk briskly around with the real grown-up cities and hope nobody peers at us too closely.
But with all Auckland’s gridlocks and traffic problems, we still have no alternative to roads for getting to and from our city’s only international airport (let alone the next-door domestic one). If traffic is especially bad, you’ll just have to miss your flight. Tough luck. That’s Auckland for ya.
It’s not just embarrassing. It’s inexplicable.
In Tokyo, you can get a perching monorail, a hanging one, a bullet train, or any number of regular train lines to and from your flights. You’d be mad to try for a taxi, bus or private car. And it’s fair enough that we can’t possibly compete – we don’t have even a tenth the population of Tokyo. But even in Miyazaki, a sleepy rural city in the south of Japan, with only 360,000 citizens, there are frequent, efficient trains to and from the airport. Of course there are trains. You’ve gotta have trains! You’d be mad to rely on just roads, which are notoriously vulnerable to incidents and gridlocks. Right?
Well, we’re the 15th most congested city in the world (out of 169 surveyed last year), with daily trips to and from the airport are predicted to increase from 63,000 per day to 140,000 per day next year, yet we still don’t have any bloody concrete plans to get trains running to the airport. The current loose plan is a half-hearted aim at having an airport rail link by 2030.
Wowee, guys! IF we’re lucky, in more than 15 years time we MIGHT have a contemporary transport option for our country’s biggest city. While the airport is indeed setting aside land for a possible-potential-maybe-might-have-one-day future underground station, it looks a bloody long way off, and is by no means a certainty (especially when you look at the amount they make from carparking).
It has been about bloody time for a bloody long time, and it still hasn’t happened.
So, look. I saw what happened with the legal highs. Labour was sensible and was all like “We’ll sort the problem out, NZ” and then National quickly went “WAIT WAIT WE’LL DO IT, NZ.”
Well, Labor. You want my vote?
Promise once and for all to drag us into the 21st century with a rail link to the freaking airport, and you’ll bloody well get it.