Congestion on the roads in Auckland is getting worse – apologies to the rest of the country, yes you do have your queues but Auckland is the topic of the day at present . It’s a fact. I have travelled the Auckland roads for near on 50 years (give or take). I won’t go into the, “I remember” or “Back in my day”, speech ….. actually I lie, I will. I will try and remember what my aging memory remembers…
Toll Booths on Auckland Harbour Bridge. We had about eight booths. Was it 20 cents to get ‘past the gatekeeper’? Well that’s what comes to mind. Then it would be a race to get into the narrowing lanes to head off up north to the sunshine! It was a known fact that the sun shone brighter, bigger and hotter north of the bridge! That’s probably about the time the saying: Shore girl;shore thing sprung up and Uncles hamburger bars were open until the wee hours of the morning for people returning back to the shore after a night in the city – or from the Poenamo, the Mon Desir or for those that remember the Shore Night Club! And yes when drinking and driving was doable… not safe, but we did it. Liquid lunches were all the rage within the corporates and if you were in ‘advertising’ then you must have made it!
Now what was I meant to be talking about after digressing just a little? Oh yes, carless days.
So someone is touting the return of the carless day. No, not where all cars are erased from the landscape, it’s just where you have to choose one day of the week where you won’t drive your car. Of course if you are a two car family/household/flatters like most of New Zealand are, well it’s not going to put you out too much, but really? It’s not going to work.
I have two strains of thought on this:
1) Nothing in this city of ours will work when it comes to trying to clear the roads until you have buses and trains that link up to each other with regards to unloading a train and jumping straight onto a bus. You also need a network that covers all four corners of the compass and currently the northern region does not sit well when it comes to catching a train into the city. Mayor Robbie you had one hell of an idea back in the day – I really wish you had been listened to and we would have a rapid transit system now! Hands up those that have been to London. The network of trains and buses is amazing and from an amateur’s eye it seems to work. And,
2) People in Auckland need their cars. Yes they do. You see people in Auckland have varying styles of life; this means they need their car before and after work. People in Auckland are either going to dinner, going to the gym, visiting their dear ole mum. They are driving to the child centre where their darling has been since the early hours of the morning, or taking their children to sport, music or just spending time with them in the park or at the beach. If people jump on a train or a bus, they will have to go home and get their car and go out again to do all the things that they have to do.
And another thing,the traffic is less congested during the school holidays. My trip to work (about 25 km from home and over the bridge) is about 20 minutes shorter when school’s out! So what does that tell us…
Carless days in the 1970’s
Carless days for motor vehicles were introduced to combat the second ‘oil shock’ (petrol shortage) of the 1970s. They did little to reduce consumption and were scrapped in May 1980.
Under the legislation, all private owners of petrol-driven motor vehicles were required to select a day of the week on which they would not use their car.
A coloured sticker on the windscreen indicated the chosen day. Those caught on the roads on their designated day off could be fined. A sample of the ‘Thursday’ carless day sticker – pretty in pink!
Other measures introduced to reduce petrol consumption included cutting the open-road speed limit from 100 km/hr to 80 km/hr and restricting the hours during which service stations could sell petrol.
Several factors contributed to the scheme’s ultimate failure.
One centred on the issue of exemption – it was possible to apply for an ‘X sticker’ exemption if the vehicle was needed for urgent business.
A black market for exemption stickers emerged, as did forgeries, making enforcement difficult.
Households able to run two cars had a distinct advantage over others as they could choose different carless days for each vehicle.
My vote …. don’t bring back the carless days!