Get on board

By: Tessa Berger

With the rollout of Warkworth’s new bus network and the recent launch of the 998 Wellsford-Warkworth service, funded by the Rodney Local Board Transport Targeted Rate, we’ve finally linked Auckland with the north! With early adopters’ bums firmly on seats, how do we now embrace our new-found connectivity and ensure these services are fully utilised?

Passengers celebrate on board the first 998 Wellsford-Warkworth bus service, which departed Wellsford on Sunday, February 24 at 7.20am. Also on board were Rodney Local Board Chair Beth Houlbrooke and board representative for Wellsford Colin Smith.

I could have quite easily listed off all the cost, health, safety and environmental benefits of leaving the car keys at home, but the more I thought about human experience and the way in which we relate to one another, I thought it best to share with you my own experience.
Now I’ll be honest, I didn’t willingly volunteer for my first public transport experience. As a rural born and raised Bohemian living in Mahurangi West, getting from point A to B and back only ever involved four wheels and a maximum of five seats. Effective enough for most trips, but then came the dilemma of getting my siblings and myself to and from boarding school in the city each week, without breaking the bank and without relying on full-time locally-employed parents.

As a 14-year-old, it’s safe to say that the mere thought of travelling 47km via three buses from Epsom to Waiwera on a Friday night didn’t immediately spark joy. I thought it would be an unnecessarily complex, long and, quite frankly, uncomfortable commute. However, the reality proved to be very different.

We did our research, mapped out the timetable for our route, grabbed our bags and some loose change and set out to find our first stop. Sure enough, the bus came on time, we piled on board at a discount (a perk of being tertiary students) and headed into the CBD. From there, it was as easy as disembark, greet driver and repeat.

Yes, it was cost-effective, the buses ran to schedule and the total trip time came in at under 90 minutes, but it was the overall social aspect of our journey that I will forever remember. It gave my sisters and I the opportunity to share in a new experience together, decompress on the week just gone and embrace our youthful independence.

It’s hard to believe that our inherent fear of the unknown was almost enough to prevent us from trying something that, funnily enough, ended up being one of the most enjoyable moments of our week. So instead of falling into the same travel routine, I encourage you all to adopt the good old-fashioned give-it-a-go Kiwi approach to our new network. See if the services themselves can’t persuade you to continue to HOP back on. As I found, it’s as easy as taking your first trip.

Tessa Berger, Rodney Local Board


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