Thursday, July 3, 2008

Roads to nowhere

Good to hear a Morning Report item about the effect of
soaring petrol prices on people who live in places like
Upper Hutt and commute to Wellington. The couple in
question had already got rid of one gas-guzzling car, were
rationing the use of the other and contemplating moving
into Wellington altogether. I did a similar piece for the
Listener last year when I went to Whitby—a postwar
suburb north of Wellington whose very existence is
predicated on unhampered private vehicle use—and asked
locals how they’d cope with peak oil. More and more in the
media now, one sees stories about people cutting back on
car use and adapting their lives accordingly. Yet billions of
dollars are still being lavished on major road development
on the assumption, or perhaps just the hope, that traffic
will go on expanding exponentially. It’s like building
swimming pools as a tsunami approaches.

And still there are those who can’t get their heads around it.
The Dominion Post ran a letter from a woman complaining
that she’d tried to do the right thing and catch a train but
wound up being 40 minutes late for an appointment and
thanks very much but next time I’ll take the car. Diddums.
Just because public transport is not instantly available at
every second of the day like your car is, you don’t throw
your toys out of the cot if it doesn’t perform perfectly to
your satisfaction first time. You push for better services,
you keep using public transport to help the demand grow,
and it will inevitably improve. You might even get to like it.


Anonymous said...

I live in Kapiti and it makes me wonder just how long "satellite towns" like this will be sustainable for communters. OK we have a resaonble rail service and a its a nice area and climate but already I am hearing of people thinking of moving back in to Wellington to be closer to their workplaces.

Steve Withers said...

I sold my ute and 4X4 last year and bought a 1.3L Mazda Demio (1998) for $7995. I had a few thousand left over from the sale of the other two to pay for petrol for the new car.

I now pay $60-$65 to fill up. That lasts me about 2 weeks.

It will be another year or so before I have to pay for petrol out of money I currently earn.