LANI WRITES,

Tak­ing the train to work is a rel­e­va­tion.

Metro Magazine NZ - - Contents -

Iwas 25 be­fore I learned to drive. That’s a long time to be at the mercy of Auck­land’s un­re­li­able buses, es­pe­cially when liv­ing in Man­gere Bridge. That’s many years of sprint­ing for buses that ar­rive five min­utes too early, or im­pa­tiently wait­ing for a bus run­ning 15 min­utes late — only for it to drive right past my stop.

It was years of hop­ing for a seat by the win­dow, so I could lean my head on the glass, hoodie pulled low, and sleep through the bumpy stop-and-start hour­long ride to work. Would I catch the bus that would get me into the city an hour too early? Or would I get the next one, which, though just a few min­utes later, would threaten to make me late for work? So, when I fi­nally learned to drive, pub­lic trans­port was quickly shunned.

I later moved to Pa­p­a­toe­toe, where I’d as­sumed there was no con­ve­nient bus route, though I never both­ered to look. I’d travel over­seas and marvel at the pub­lic train sys­tems and wish for our own. I knew we had trains here, I’d just never used them. They were too far away. I needed them to be a few steps from my door. Like in New York. I needed the trains to stop some­where other than Brit­o­mart. Oh yeah, I’d to­tally use the train, I’d tell peo­ple, if it were more con­ve­nient.

The free­dom of be­ing able to get into my car at the end of the day and leave straight away al­ways out­weighed what­ever do-gooder pub­lic trans­port no­tions I vaguely en­ter­tained. But then, some guy crashed into the back of my car. And then, my nan was ad­mit­ted to hospi­tal for a cou­ple of nights. I walked from work to Brit­o­mart, not the marathon I’d imag­ined, and caught the train to Mid­dle­more. On the Eastern Line, the first leg of the trip was so pic­turesque — with views over Okahu and Hob­son Bays — my phone was im­me­di­ately out. Ex­cit­edly tak­ing pic­tures and Snapchats, I was like a giddy tourist. No one else was very ex­cited. They’d al­ready sussed the trains out long ago.

At first, I caught the train al­most as a nov­elty, and to give the hus­band a break from dou­ble trips into the city and back. I’ve con­tin­ued catch­ing it be­cause it makes sense, and I ac­tu­ally en­joy it. It’s a six-minute drive to my train sta­tion, ver­sus any­where be­tween 18 and 50-plus min­utes’ drive into the city. If I leave even a few min­utes af­ter 6am, I’ll be in heavy traf­fic. One day I might get to work half an hour early, and leave at the same time the next day and get to work half an hour late, and just the tini­est sprin­kling of rain will guar­an­tee an hour’s de­lay get­ting into the city.

It’s a $10 daily trip on the train, while on-street parking has steadily risen to $42 a day. I’d leave work some­times still en­er­gised, only to have all the life sapped out of me dur­ing the long, slow drive home. Now, the walk from Brit­o­mart that I once con­sid­ered too in­con­ve­nient wakes me up on the way to work and clears my head on the way back. Plus, it’s the only ex­er­cise I’m get­ting right now. It’s def­i­nitely not the quick­est way to travel, but it is sat­is­fy­ing to look out the win­dow at 5pm as we zoom past the bumper-to-bumper traf­fic on the South­ern Mo­tor­way.

It is sat­is­fy­ing to look out the win­dow as we zoom past the bumperto-bumper traf­fic.

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