The Traffic Jam episode 1: On the Buses
The beloved voice of National Radio’s Nights programme, Bryan Crump, is a secret transport geek. His new podcast, The Traffic Jam, is not only punny – it’s getting answers to some of the really gnarly questions about how Wellington gets around. The Traffic Jam’s first episode is “On the Buses”
This is a little post about my day job, which equates to a night job for most of you.
If you regularly listen to RNZ National during the evening, Monday to Friday, you’ll know I’m a cycle commuting radio host.
You’ll also know I have more than a passing interest, as much as such things often pass us by, in trains, buses, and just getting around in general.
I’ve been a broadcaster for half my life, and a good proportion of that half has been lived in Wellington, New Zealand.
I grew up in Auckland, when the motor car was king, and the motorway was its throne.
When I first moved south, Wellington was held up as this country’s public transport paradise. Compact, convenient, cool. I’m sorry to have to tell you Wellington, but you’re getting more like Auckland every day.
But that’s what happens when you get sucked into the paradox that is forever creating more space for private motor vehicles.
And then there’s Transmission Gully, getting ready to unleash another tsunami of cars in 2020.
I love driving, but I really don’t want Wellington to go down the Auckland route before it unclogs its motorway arteries, or at least builds alternatives to them.
Which is why I’ve started a podcast called The Traffic Jam.
I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think the penny’s dropped in the capital.
My guess is sometime between now and the end of November, Let’s Get Wellington Moving will announce plans to build two road tunnels either side of the central city, linked by a trenched four lane highway. In fact, those four lanes will go all the way to the planes (heard that before?).
Yes, there’ll be light rail, and cycleways too, but the road will be the centrepiece.
I could be wrong, but if I am, and LGWM doesn’t directly tackle car’s king status to dethrone and demote them, it will have bought itself a massive political fight with those who believe four lanes are good, and two are bad. Really bad.
If you regularly read Talk Wellington you know all this, but The Traffic Jam aims to preach beyond the converted.
If we want real alternatives to the motor car, we need to convince those who rely on them, or think they do, that less is more.
Tell people their car dependency is responsible for the death of the planet, they’re likely to shut up shop. Give them choices that take some of the stress out of daily travel, or bring them more business, and you might be getting somewhere.
Call me naïve, but I’m after the common ground, because it is, literally. We’re talking about shared public spaces. They don’t need to be a battleground.
So, in the hope of a little more informed debate, and a little less tribalism, I offer you the The Traffic Jam.
Episode one is about Wellington’s new bus network, which will be in the news again this week, if Thursday’s planned driver strike goes ahead.
Taking advantage of the excellent acoustics atop one of Metlink’s new Double Deckers, I interviewed a couple of transport activists about town: Talk Welly’s very own Isabella Cawthorn and former convenor of the Green Party Roland Sapsford.
I’ve tried to focus the discussion on the future; what do we want to keep from the new system? What should we add? Discard?
Remember, having signed up new contracts with the city’s bus providers, Greater Wellington Regional Councillors’ own contracts with us come up for renewal in about a year.
They want your vote, which means (for a change) they might just take note of your views on the buses.
Have a listen. I hope you find it enjoyable and thought provoking.
I’ll be talking to some motorists next week.
Banner image: a snap from the top of the very double-decker bus where this podcast was being made