Rush Hour Traffic? It’s For The Dogs

Rush Hour Traffic? It’s For The Dogs

My commute received an unexpected highlight this week when, on Wednesday, I found myself travelling alongside a ute with a dog tethered in the back. Looking like a cross between a labrador and a fairly major surgical accident he was clearly well used to travelling in this manner, to the point where he had even invented a new game to help pass the time.

It's a dog's life

Standing in the shadow of the ute’s cab, panting was undertaken until a foaming mass of foul saliva had built up, at which point he would thrust his head into the air stream and try to direct the white, rabid slush onto the windscreen of the car behind. To his credit, he was a reasonable shot and would have no doubt gone on to cause slobbery carnage at some juncture had the traffic not come to its usual halt at Ellerslie.

Denied of his sport, Bonzo (I’d named him by this point) decided that the captive audience of commuters should be treated to a display of Olympic standard scrotum licking which he launched into with great gusto before curling up in a ball, tucking his nose up his bum and going to sleep.

And this is exactly why we should be investing more heavily in public transport.

Over the Easter holiday, myself and the current Mrs Grimley took a trip up to Northland. But rather than sit in the bank holiday queue from Waiwera to Wellsford a decision was taken to pull out the map and journey across the lesser roads that haphazardly criss-cross the north island.

This turned out to be a very good decision indeed because despite our woeful Primera and the interesting shades of green my good lady kept turning, the drive was nothing short of incredible. The winding metal and gravel roads were involving, the backdrop of native forest breathtakingly pretty and the fact we saw four cars in an hour gave the feeling we were on a proper adventure. If I’d had a car better suited to terrain – a suitably punchy Impreza for example – I suspect I would have simply rented a house in Kaipara Flats and never left.

Now compare this to my commute, which is so onerous that the highlight of the week has been watching a mutt lick his own man-dog bits. This is not driving; this is a chore and like all such mundane activities probably best left to someone else.

If my commute was taken on a train or a bus, I could happily play with an I-Whatsit or catch up on the Dan Brown books I’ve been meaning to read for the last three years. This would make my day much more pleasant and ensure I arrived both at work and home as a more relaxed, cheerful and productive human being.

But as most public transport currently uses the CBD as a hub there is no efficient link between the major population centre of the North Shore and the industrial districts of the South. This makes any form of public transport slow and, because of the number of changes involved, expensive, thus ruling it out as a viable option for most people. Yet I genuinely believe a direct service would be well subscribed – particularly if the route was planned carefully and the prices kept sensible – and I for one would be happy to champion any such commuter express.

Make no mistake, I love driving; but I’m happy to relinquish control in traffic jams and save my time behind the wheel for when I can really enjoy it. So to Len Brown I lay down this challenge: trial an express bus scheme during peak travel times and see how many cars you can take out of our traffic jams.

Sure, it may all come to nothing, but it would only cost the services of a couple of buses to find out and if it does become a success then come re-election time you can rightly lay claim to a public transport initiative that is nothing short of the dog’s bollocks.

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