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Luxon not on the same bus

Coverage this week is nauseatingly full of political musings, so apologies in advance for adding to it but t’is the season.

New Prime Minister Christopher Luxon’s appearance on TVNZ’s Breakfast earlier this week was set with the usual Cheshire cat grin and promises to get our country back on track.

Snuck in at the end of the interview was a question about the $20 snapper cards recently gifted to Luxon and parliament MPs by the Greater Wellington Regional Council [GWRC].

In an inspiring act of gratitude, Luxon coughed and said he didn’t know why he would be expected to comment on that.

“I’ve got no understanding of that issue; I don’t know why that’s relevant for me as prime minister to be talking to.”

For context, to encourage our parliamentary leaders to use public transport GWRC chair Daran Ponter sent each MP a snapper bus card loaded with $20, to encourage the use of Metlink’s Airport Express service instead of taking a taxi.

Ponter – in what felt like an extraordinary example of gentle parenting – described the airport bus as a “cheaper yet equally comfortable Koru lounge on wheels”.

“There’s free WIFI on board so MPs can do their work on the go,” Ponter said.

“A one-way trip using a Snapper card takes less than $8 from the taxpayer’s coffers – far better value than $40 or more on taxi fares.”

I’m going to hazard a guess that Luxon isn’t overly concerned about coughing up 40 bucks for a taxi.

GWRC’s efforts to coax parliament into the majestic chamber of an Airport Express cost $2,400 to set up.

Cost and emissions aside, the real point to ponder here is Luxon’s confusion about how Wellington’s public transport system is relevant to him and government MPs.

I’m petty, so I googled, ‘has Christopher Luxon ever taken the bus?’

This brought up many articles about his election campaign aboard the ‘blue bus’ but nothing about a daily commute, which – for many – is a necessity, not a choice.

In April this year, RNZ launched an investigation into what they named ‘the crisis of our urban bus networks’.

It found an average of 1085 cancellations on a weekday in Auckland and 448 in Wellington, although 152 of these in the capital were reinstated later in the day.

I know people in Wellington who leave for work hours before they need to try and avoid the sweaty, uncomfortable rush hour commute into town between 7.30am and 9am.

Often during this time, the buses are so packed with commuters that the driver has to stop pulling over at bus stops, to the utter dismay of those waiting.

Comments like this from Luxon suggest that there is little understanding of public transport from the people who have the authority to invest in it.

Last year after media criticism, Luxon had to revise an earlier statement that said: “Ultimately, public transport needs to stand on its own feet – it can’t be subsidised or underwritten”.

It does need to stand on its own feet, but maybe Luxon and other MPs should put themselves in the public’s shoes to see what needs to change so it can.

2 COMMENTS

  1. So why has labour and greens 🤔 over 6 years not fixed it ? 🤔 stop ✋ talking about your love for the left party your ment to be independent? . You want national 😏 to fix your parties stuff ups in a month or two 🤔 what a joke. Everything they do you will be criticizing. Please please 🙏 try and be neutral 😐 and think 🤔 who created this mess we are in.

Comments are closed.

Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age, originally hailing from Wellington. She is interested in social issues and writes about the local arts and culture scene.

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