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Monday, April 03, 2006

Of windblown waiting areas and shit sidewalks 

Time for a brief, first-hand account of catching the train in Auckland for the first time in many years. My origin was Henderson, and my destination Britomart.

In a couple of senses the service was good: the train turned up on time (almost to the minute I'd say) and provided a comfortable, smooth ride into town.

In another sense, there's a fuckload still to be done. The idea of a "train station" is clearly lost once you move beyond the bowels of Britomart: the waiting area at Henderson (hardly a backwater) was no more than an uneven, patchy concrete platform with a woebegone wooden "shelter" at one end under which maybe 7-8 people could huddle, with a roof of sorts, but no walls to protect one from the wind and rain. For $4.20 per one way voyage, plus ARC rates, plus petrol taxes, etc. , ARTA and its subcontractors could, err, build and maintain a station? The rest of the journey confirmed that this is the norm. What utter crap, especially in a city where rain and wind aren't unheard of (although even in somewhere like Phoenix this should be unacceptable).

For the record, here's what the Skytrain stations in Vancouver look like. The skytrain has problems, but a complete fucking absence of minimally-acceptable waiting & embarkation areas isn't one of them.


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