Wednesday, 6 March 2013

A Transport of Delight

The ever-anonymous editor of the Herald has opined on the tram in Auckland.

It's not much of a tram, it runs on a very small circuit in the Wynyard Quarter, which, for non-Aucklanders, is  a short walk (ten minutes or so) from the downtown end of the CBD.  The area is going through what is referred to as "urban-renewal", which basically means the fish factories, warehouses, Americas Cup yacht bases and oil storage bunkers are being demolished and replaced with glass offices, glass apartments and expensive cafes with underpaid staff from the other side of town.  Right now it's a hodge-podge of all kinds of stuff, in ten or twenty years it will probably be nice, if you like that kind of thing.

Was it a smart place to put a tram?  Well, it showed a lot of foresight.  And read the tram blog.

It's a bit disconnected from the rest of the city.  Apart from the obvious "leave it as it is" solution, there are two other possibilities, shut it down, or allow it to expand.  And the editor chooses to accentuate the negative, favour pursuing the small-minded provincialism that blights New Zealand.

A comparison between Melbourne and Auckland is made.  And it's not unfair to make that comparison, both cities were founded at about the same time, both are major cities with temperate climates, by the sea.  Melbourne's tram system is brilliant.  It goes all sorts of places, it's cheap and convenient, it's part of the city-scape.  Auckland's tram system is a start.  Or a restart.  Melbourne also has a comprehensive urban commuter rail network, as well as buses and motorways.  Whereas Auckland has a bit of a rail network, as well as buses and motorways aplenty.

The thing that gets me about this material is that the editor has not considered the inherent contradiction in their editorial.  Part of the reason why Melbourne is a better place to live than Auckland is due to the transport.  Advocating against something different, when that difference has worked elsewhere, is dumb.

Flanders and Swann - At the Drop of a Hat, 1957

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