Is this real consultation, or is this just another sham? That’s the question you have to ask yourself, on the NZTA’s/WCC’s/GWRC’s Get Welly Moving website, purporting to be asking Wellingtonians exactly what they want on the transport for the region and the city. Why are they asking this? What will they do with the answers they receive? What if the answers give them an answer that they do not want? How do we know that we can trust them not to fiddle the results?
It’s a curious thing, but perhaps, we just do it anyway. I certainly have. Just two weeks left.
The website www.getwellymoving.co.nz asks: What is this programme all about?
“Itâ€™s about finding improvements to the way the city looks, feels and functions and how transport can support the kind of city we want, allow for future growth, and make it easy to get around.
Itâ€™s also about making sure people can get to regional services and facilities, including the hospital, port, and airport.”
And why do they want this information?
“Weâ€™re asking the people throughout the Wellington region to help us understand the problems and opportunities by telling us their experiences. We know that there are lots of things that people love about living, working and visiting our capital city. We also know that there are things that make moving around Wellington frustrating and difficult. Weâ€™re interested in your experience. This will depend on where you come from, need to get to, how you get around, and the things you value. There will be trade-offs to consider in any proposed solution, so we want to hear from as many people as possible and consider different perspectives.”
I’m more than a little suspicious about websites from Government organisations asking you to “tell us about your experience” and it sounds all a little too happy-clappy, hippy-dippy, come here and I’ll hold you while you cry for me, but nevertheless, I gave them a Fish full of fat fleshy lip for their time. What they’ll make of it all, I do not know. Fish Pie, I presume.
(Purple areas indicate more respondents. GIS indicates that an uninhabited island in the middle of the harbour has responded. Not so).
The problem is, they want to ask the questions they want, and they don’t ask the questions that we might want to. And their questions are frustratingly simple. When asked what method of transport I use to get round town – what do I answer? Well I walk to work, obviously, but sometimes take a bus to get a little further, and if I’m in a hurry, I take a cab. When I’m doing stuff out of town, I have to drive my car, as there is no bus or train to get to where i want to go. Mostly, actually, I cab to the airport and fly. But I’m only allowed to answer one answer, and so of course the answers to that particular question therefore get screwed.
(The answers so far are pleasing, but ultimately meaningless?)
The questions are deliberately vague, so that the answers are obligingly non-political – nowhere do they say “Would you like a flyover with that?” or “How is that Island Bay Cycle Way going for you?” even if those are questions that we might want to be asked. So, while the questions are bland and tedious, its hard to get the answers in that you want. Nonetheless, they have obligingly put in feedback boxes everywhere so that you can vent, and venting is certainly happening, even on un-transport-related matters.
(A. Murray of Tawa: Concentrate, fool! This is a Transport questionnaire, not a Waterfront Watch recruitment drive!)
At the time of writing this, they have had a refreshingly full basket of 16,423 responses so far, and have nearly had all their consultation meetings. Some areas are keen to consult, with lots of feedback, and others less so. Island Bay, predictably, are full of it, and Mt Vic too, and we can guess why those two suburbs are so well represented, but in contrast, the lazy residents of Takapu Valley haven’t bothered to get off their lush, verdantly green verges and comment at all, despite the Eye of the Fish’s valiant efforts to help save their arses last year. Last year they were all about wanting to be heard – now, couldn’t care less. It’s the nature of the beast I suppose, and the power of the pressure group.
(Takapu and Shelley Bay – lift your game!)
But the results so far, are pleasing. Wellingtonians, it seems, accept that some congestion is necessary, and at the same time, find it a mostly fairly easy to get round town. Certainly, when I’m on foot, I love it when the traffic has ground to a halt, as it enables me to jaywalk comfortably across the blocked road, but of course, when I am in a car, I feel the frustration of being unable to make it the last 50m to my palatial residence. Anyway – all submissions are welcome, and so submit away. Time will tell what happens next.