Getting fast & furious about trains & buses Posted 2012, 24 January I’m just back from a trip to Germany via Hong Kong, and as much as it was a holiday, I can never switch off my professional reflections. The efficiency of people getting around CBDs in these countries struck me. Trains, subways, buses; the transport culture is just about the complete opposite of Auckland where we are all still so addicted to the car. Yes, yes, I know the old argument that goes around in circles that once the trains and buses here are more frequent, modern, and on time, things will change. But we’ve been harping on about this for decades. Significant change to transport in Auckland always ends up in the “one day, maybe” basket. We seem to totally overlook the double-whammy benefit of using trains and buses; that we can (a) get places more quickly, and (b) use the travelling time productively. I’d say 75 percent of the people on the subway in Hong Kong were on a smart phone or tablet, a great many of them getting up to date with the news or other work-related activity. That looks to me like a great stride towards being more productive with our time than sitting in a traffic jam. Once our bus stations, train stations and public transport systems are better utilised, imagine too the businesses that can spring up around them; coffees on the go, media and advertising at all these locations, etc. Has anyone done a detailed cost/benefit analysis of these benefits? Productivity is critical to our economy, anywhere and everywhere we can find it. A colleague told me today how he drove into the CBD from an inner city suburb this morning for a meeting, and another colleague travelled in by bus. The one in the car was late and disorganised, stressed about finding a park, and worried about overstaying his meter limit. The bus traveller was on time, had lined up appointments in adjacent buildings to follow, and was totally relaxed. So who was using their time more efficiently? I wonder how much we kid ourselves that we are more efficient and getting places faster by using the car, especially on shorter trips around the city. A culture change is required, regardless of the timeline for new trains, subways and buses.