Having no car and not really needing one in Welly as its like 5 mins walk to Scott’s work and 10 – 15 to the train/bus station, plus the whole city is like a half hour walk from one side to the other, I have discovered the joy of public transport, and I can honestly say what a joy it is.
The train station as I said is like a 10 min walk from the Quest apartment block that we’re in and is very clean and tidy barely any graffiti, mainly because if you get caught, you get fined and they mean it. In fact the only graffiti that I have seen is on some station stops where they are not overlooked by any cameras etc. The kids are too well behaved to think about it. You have to use the ticket office especially if your getting on at Wellington, I have been told on numerous occasions by Train Conductors that if the ticket office doesn’t get used then they are going to shut it down and put the ticket prices up. The ticket office has two booths open at best of times one for the scenic train and one for the trans-metro and I have only ever seen a queue of more than three people once, and I am travelling a lot. The tickets are like any anywhere I guess, you pay the same price on the train as you do from the ticket office, so this is why people don’t use the office and the guy sits in there reading the Dominion Post all day (poor bloke). But the ticket office is so charming and again the sales guy is so nice, you really should get your ticket from him just to say good morning.
So an average short journey being anything from 5 to 40 mins long will cost you about $2 or $3 off peak which I think we worked out to be out £0.66 how fantastic is that?? And a longer journey taking on average 40 mins to an hour anything from $4 to $8 off peak. Still that’s €2 or about £ 1.25. For an hours journey ! We haven’t been any further than that yet so unable to comment on longer more scenic journeys.
The trains themselves are very old fashioned like the ones that they had in England in the 70’s. I think they actually shipped them over here when they upgraded, but they are comfortable and some trains even have those change direction seats which I think is so cute. The Conductor attacks you as soon as you board the train especially if you are travelling off peak. Personally I think they like the human interaction rather than just sitting on the train all day talking to no one. So far almost every Conductor has managed to strike up a conversation with me even if it has been short lived. The doors open by key and they actually stop at every station even if no-one wants to get on or off, and the trains cross the road a lot which makes the bells go off, (note to self, no buying a house near the level crossing).
Kiwis don’t like to commute to far outside their working area, so a 20 min commute to work is almost too far, the further out you live the more likely you are to get a seat on the train. But on the same note the trains/bus’s do get packed with school kids and office suits between 7 and 9 as I agree the price is really to good and it keeps cars off the ever so jammed M1 and M2 the only major roads into Wellington.
The big thing I love about being on the train is the view you get, in fact I got on the train once going in the wrong direction because I knew it would eventually get to the end of the line and have to turn back again, and meanwhile I could admire the most beautiful hill sides, coast line and valley. Plus it gives you a great view of where to look to buy a house, you get a really good reality check when you see what hills you have to walk up. And surprisingly it doesn’t cost you any more than a normal ticket. One thing that makes me smile about the train route is that they number the tunnels, I think that’s great.
The trains are regular and mostly on time, the people are friendly plus its so cheap, definitely the way to get around.