Partially because I’ve done my best to avoid the mess that is Symonds Street at the moment (due to roadworks for the Central Connector busway project), and partially because I just like catching trains. I do travel between home and the city, or between Avondale and the city, reasonably often as my work is split between Avondale and the stuff I do for the Historic Places Trust in the city. Switching from the bus-to-train or vice-versa has possibly saved me a bit of time, and has given me a chance to actually experience Auckland’s train system. Something I haven’t really done consistently until now.
In general my experiences have been pretty good. The trains have generally shown up one time, the trips have been without incident and are usually much more comfortable and relaxing than being on the bus. On one occasion in the morning the train previous to the one I had been expecting to catch was about 20 minutes late, so by the time it reached Kingsland (which was only a few minutes after I arrived) it was totally packed. As Auckland’s Western Line trains are usually not nearly as crowded as those of overseas systems (or indeed, those on the Southern and Eastern Lines) it was an interesting experience. I suppose that I would have been grumpy about the train being late if I had been sitting there for 20 minutes, but I had enough time before having to be at work that it wasn’t much of a problem. In the afternoon/evenings it has actually been even more useful, as Symonds Street is particularly notorious in the evening peak (even without the current roadworks). The trip from Britomart to Kingsland takes just under 20 minutes, which is longer than it really should take (due to a lot of sharp bends, steep hills and the round-about route via Newmarket) but it’s still much faster than would be possible by bus. The transfer from train to bus at Kingsland is easy-peasy too, with the bus stop being just over the road – and peak hour buses coming along every couple of minutes or so. Wow, Auckland’s public transport actually impressing me for once.
It will be interesting to see what happens from next week onwards, with university back. Auckland City Council seem to be all over the place about their Symonds Street upgrade, first planning a major closure of parts of Symonds Street throughout the whole weekend, and (stupidly) also Monday. Now, due to a bad weather forecast (an accurate one too I must say, listening to the rain pour down outside) this work is now delayed until later in March. As I mentioned at the start of this post, Symonds Street has been a mess for the past few months – with the construction of the Central Connector Project. With the completion of the university section now delayed until a few weeks after university starts, it is really going to be insanity trying to get through there (as I assume the lanes will still be narrowed and reduced in number). So more people catching the train from Monday onwards I assume!