As a true-blue Aucklander and JAFA, I can staunchly say that my car has been a core part of my adult existence. With all of Auckland’s bumps, hills, roads that make no sense, and rapidly growing population, I have always used my car (currently named ‘X-Man’) to go everywhere, even when venturing into the busy CBD.
My memories of using public transport haven’t been flash… as a teen I used to get the Express bus from Mangere Bridge to Newmarket. If the bus was full (as it usually was) I would end up having to stand the entire journey to school. This was all the more difficult with a massive bag on my back (why did I insist on bringing every text book to school?!) and carrying my clarinet case too. When the bus stopped suddenly I would go hurtling down the aisle, arms and clarinet flailing in the air. And don’t get me started when buses didn’t turn up on time, or didn’t turn up at all.
By the time I went to uni, I inherited my sister’s zippy red Toyota Corolla hatchback. I named her Jubliee (after an X-Man character) and parked her easily in the $3 carpark in the old Carlaw Park. Oh those were the days.
Once I entered the ‘real world’ of work I got used to the practice of driving to my workplaces. CBD, Eden Terrace, Parnell, Mt Albert… I either found a car park in close proximity or parked in a nearby suburb and walked over. I totally developed a mindset that using my car was more convenient, quicker and gave me greater freedom to use my time.
But after 14 years of driving to and from work, I have finally become a public transport user! Why the sudden change I hear you ask? Well firstly, I got a new job in the City Centre. The $3 parking from 2001 no longer exists. in fact, the daily rate for a city car park is at least $18 dollars per day. That’s about a 500% increase! Secondly, Auckland roads are busier than ever and it was so common for me to leave for work well before 7am. Thirdly, I wish to be better greenie, so I acknowledge the connection between my heavy car usage and inflated my carbon footprint.
So for the past three weeks, I have been catching the ferry to and from work. I live in Hobsonville (formerly the home of the Royal NZ Airforce) and the commuter ferry has been operating from here ever since Hobsonville Point became a new residential development area.
I love my commute and the 25 minute sail into the CBD is simply breath-taking. The views of the Waitemata, the Harbour Bridge, Rangitoto Island, the City Skyline, and the North Shore is a visual feast and the surrounding water can only help me to feel calm.
I tend to have a three-pronged approach when travelling on the ferry. 1: I get totally absorbed in a book. 2: I day-dream, or nod-off when part-way through my book. 3: I stare out in the water, obviously distracted when reading my book.
Last Friday, I felt so inspired to admire the view so I decided to sit at the top with the sun and air around me. I thought it was strange how there was only one other person doing the same thing. How can other people not want to embrace this weather? Okay, very quickly I realised that the breeze is quite strong and my teeth began to chatter. Hmm, time to pull out a tissue to wipe my shivering and streaming nose.
Despite my naivety, I am totally in awe of the ferry service and hope it continues to grow in the future. It was quick and efficient, and more importantly it means there are less people using our roads during peak times. Gosh, imagine if the ferry service was able to extend it’s range and also make stops in Pt Chev and Te Atatu?! Oh, I forgot to mention that the ferry serves coffee and alcoholic beverages too.
In addition to the ferry, I have also used the bus on a few occasions and been impressed with the regularity of service. It looks like you can teach a hardened JAFA some new tricks.
Right now I can definitely say that I don’t miss using my car as much. It made me realise how robotic and trance-like one can get when driving to and from a workplace. Also, being in heavy traffic can be a frustrating experience when people are constantly trying to merge, exit, give way…
I know it sounds ridiculous, but I am so happy to have a HOP Card. I feel I missed out on so much over the years, largely due to my closed attitude towards commuting and embracing public transport. So as I suggest in my blog’s title, my ferry has totally been my fairy. You know, the type of fairy that weaves magic and makes things a bit better.
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