Sharing a car for 33 years
A Titahi Bay carpool has survived a motorway breakdown, a gunman and even one member’s twodoor car to become what is probably New Zealand’s oldest car share.
In 33 years there have been more than 25 members of the carpool, which drives from the Bay to Wellington city and back every workday. It was founded in 1980 by Gloaming Hill man Brian Korte as a response to Muldoonera oil shocks and ‘‘carless days’’.
Current members Simon Gill, Tony Southern, Peter May, Alvin Blyde and Shane Wratt have clocked up seven decades of membership between them. Most were recruited through word of mouth, although Mr Wratt found the group through the governmentrun website Let’s Carpool.
Each member drives their car one day a week, and the group shares a car park in the city.
Saving money is not the only reason for sharing a ride – the carpool is eco-friendly and the group have become firm friends.
‘‘It works so well. It feels good,’’ Mr Wratt said.
The carpool group organise barbecues, and have done a sailing course and the Adrenalin Forest high- wire challenge together.
Since Outward Bound manager Mr Wratt joined three years ago, half the group have attended the Marlborough outdoors programme.
With members working in fields as diverse as telecommunications and insurance, they can solve any problem a fellow carpooler might have, Mr Gill said.
‘‘It’s amazing, when issues come up, between us we have specialists in everything. We’ll help each other.’’
That’s not to say the mates run out of small talk on occasion, Mr Blyde said.
‘‘Some mornings it’s chatter all the way; other mornings it’s like a church.’’
The carpool has had some scrapes and close calls over the years – in the 1980s the car nearly ran into the opposite lane trying to avoid a crash ahead.
A few years earlier the group broke down coming up the Ngauranga Gorge, and had to be rescued by a member’s wife.
‘‘It wasn’t a good moment,’’ Mr Gill said.
The most dramatic moment, however, was in the early 1990s, when a police search for a gunman blocked the southbound route into the city. The carpool had to travel to work via Haywards Hill, arriving in town at noon.
There is no vetting process to allow new members into the carpool, although a roomy car is always welcome, Mr Southern said.
‘‘I once got frowns when I took my wife’s two- door car. That wasn’t fun.’’
Record-breaking: Titahi Bay carpool members, from left: Peter May, Simon Gill, Tony Southern, Alvin Blyde and Shane Wratt.