We were travelling out to The New Zealand Beer Festival at Ellerslie Racecourse, and figuring there was a better than even chance we’d be having a drink or two, decided we’d follow the advice on the festival website and take the train rather than driving.
We headed down to the conveniently located and smartly appointed Britomart transport station, arriving at the platform with plenty of time to spare only to find not the expected waiting train, but an empty bit of track. Speaking to the (very helpful and friendly) chap standing on the platform with a clipboard, we were told our train was leaving from a different platform nearby. And the train wouldn’t be a traditional train it would instead be a “rail bus” and it wouldn’t be leaving from a platform it’d be embarking from a “bus stop”.
In other words, we were told to take a hike. Not in so many words of course, like I said the guy was very friendly. But this is ultimately the message we were getting from Maxx, the operators of our beloved city’s rail network: “you want to take the train? nice, get on the bus and like it.”
And not only were we taking a bus, but it wasn’t leaving on anything like the same schedule of the train we were expecting to take. No, we were going to have to go and stand on the side of the road for half and hour. Our “rail bus” wouldn’t even be leaving until 15 minutes after our train should have arrived at our destination.
Shall I sit in the front seat? Shall I sit in the back seat?
Didn’t matter what seat we chose, because the bus smelled like piss from end to end, so it was a grim aspect with which we finally commenced our journey to the beer fest.
The rail bus really does just look like any other bus doesn’t it? Well that’s what people at the various bus stops we visited on the journey thought as well. Sure seemed surprised when they were told by the conductor that their bus transfer wouldn’t work because this is “a train”.
It’s not a bloody train! Of course they were confused!
It was a relief to see the back of our piss smelling rail bus.
Yes, of course now I know that the train had been magically transformed into a bus because they’re performing maintenance and improvements to the rail network, and they might be doing a bloody stellar job of that, but as with so many other organisations they’re not getting the communication right. After being redirected to the bus stop we discovered that the totality of signage directing rail passengers to the bus was an A4 printout taped to a pillar. The guy on the platform knew that the beer fest was on, so the higher-ups certainly should have known it, and made vastly better accommodations than they did.
Credit where it’s due for the great attendant on the platform, and whatever Maxx are failing at with communications, it’s simply inexcusable for a bus to smell like piss.
On the plus side, I’ve figured out what Maxx stands for.
What terrible misdeed must we have we done as a city to deserve these abominable operators?
One thought on “Rail… bus?”
It’s not as if it’s even hard to do a “train bus” well. In Wellington last year when they were upgrading the tracks, lots of lines were closed on weekends for the work and so replaced with buses. They were called “rail replacements” and always ran to the same schedule as the trains. They worked well, even with the longer lines split between two buses. And the buses didn’t smell like piss.
What terrible misdeed has caused this? I blame it on a survey done in the 1950s when Auckland was figuring out whether they should build a giant fuck-off motorway or not. The survey was to gauge how Aucklanders got to work – bus/tram/train, bicycle or car. Unfortunately they “forgot” to also ask who walked to work, conveniently missing out all the working-class suburbs of Newton and Ponsonby, etc – the very same suburbs that were earmarked for motorway demolition.
So that resulted in a massive fuck-off motorway being built. Funnily enough, the original recommendation was to have an improved public transport system along with the motorway, but that was decided to be too expensive. So now Auckland has this ’50s-style motorway system and is still clinging on to that autopia dream. Public transport doesn’t fit in with that dream, so of course there’s reluctance to make any effort.
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