This was supposed to be in Nexus Magazine, hence it’s talking about student issues. However, the format of my column in Nexus changed, so this wasn’t printed. Not wanting to waste it, I’m publishing it here instead.
Student issues is a broad thing, so I thought I’d go with one small part of it that really makes me annoyed – Public Transport. I am a firm believer in Public Transport. One of the top things that I looked for in my flat was how close it was to a bus stop. While Hamilton doesn’t have the best public transport, I’m going to go slightly more wider picture and talk about New Zealand’s terrible public transport.
I’m an Aucklander, so Hamilton’s public transport, while terrible, was a huge relief in comparison. It’s great to have a public transport system that works with the entire city, rather than just small areas of it. Integrated ticketing (well, sort of) was one relief. I say sort of because the main reason for that is there’s only one bus company, except for maybe two routes. However, I think New Zealand needs to move to a much more integrated system overall.
We shouldn’t have Auckland Transport, Busit, Metlink (Wellington), Metro (Christchurch) etc. Part of NZTA should be a single public transport body. There should be a single integrated ticketing system that would get you on public transport anywhere in the country, plus on things like the Interislander. There should either be a deal done with Naked Bus or Intercity, or a inter-regional public transport system should be put in place.
Public transport is a hugely positive thing to society and it should appeal to everyone. If you’re on the more right side of the political spectrum, it decreases the consumption of oil, meaning there’s more for the future, so this supposedly “end of the -w-o-r-l-d- [please strikeout – Google Docs won’t let me] oil” won’t cause havoc with the economy. If you’re on the left side of the spectrum, you’ll see the environmental benefits of cars being taken off the roads.
Here’s the problem – the current Government seems to have a fuse blown when it comes to public transport. They can only see the benefits to making life better for car drivers. I remember interviewing David Bennett, MP for Hamilton East, on Contact FM in 2010 when having a Auckland-Hamilton rail link was the big thing in local body politics. He said that there’s no need because “it’s not going to be long until everyone’s driving electric cars anyway”. Bill English said a similar thing in Parliament last year. In fact, Labour list MP, Sue Moroney, said to me in an interview that she remembers David Bennett saying during the 2008 election campaign that before the next election (the one last year), everyone would be driving electric cars. National seems to be more thinking about electric cars.
So, yes, this column is called Am I Right? and in terms of politics, this week, the answer is certainly no.