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The Great New Zealand Carpool

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Samantha Lee
Samantha Lee
Alright. Hands up, who wants Good Behaviour Vouchers for carpooling?
I do not happen to own a car, for the sole reason that if I owned one I would have to change my address to my parking space number, for the price I’d be paying.
Therefore I am a proud supporter of public transport, daily embarking my heated, half-empty bus and being chauffeured to work.

However! I know people with cars. I can drive. I can even, on occasion, hold a conversation without being offensive/ laughing inappropriately or creeping the other person out.

I also can navigate a map with 85% accuracy, pump petrol, and generally know where I am even if I can’t see the Skytower.
I am the quintessential carpooling companion; I could be persuaded to join a carpool, if only someone would give me things for doing it.
The reason I am bringing this up is that two lanes of the Harbour Bridge were closed today during the lunch hour, which meant a five minute run took thirty. The reason it took so long was the sheer amount of people wanting to get into the city.
So, feeling very sorry for the poor buggers not in the bus lane, I had a helpful idea.
It’s funny; I’m sure most of the people heading into town work within five minutes of each other, park in the same place, and leave work at the same time if 5 o’clock Rush Hour is anything to go by- why doesn’t anyone carpool?
The motorway is filled each morning with the working professional: coiffed, caffeinated- and carrying one person per vehicle.
Wellington does it; they have a government funded site going and everything. It’s called ‘Let's Carpool’ which, I know, is more of an incentive to throw popcorn at the screen than attempt to carpool, but they have prizes, and everyone knows the way to get anyone to do anything is to bribe them heavily.
If only a major New Zealand company, (say, a radio station or television network) was offering petrol vouchers for lucky car-poolers. They could do a monthly competition, and if you ring the station (which you could do if you had more than one of you in the car) and convince them it wasn’t just you calling and pretending to be four other people, you get Stuff. Or set up at a petrol station or three and give away free petrol to all car-poolers.
I say could, because nobody’s done it yet.
But if anyone reading this knows a guy that knows a guy…tell the guy the way to reduce people’s daily commute is through their wallets. Fear just ain’t going to it.
Welcome to the ever increasing threat of Urban Dystopia: Traffic Edition.
We’ve got your smog, air pollution, increased noise, environmental concerns.
There’s also the potential increase of chronic respiratory symptoms, and increased physical and mental symptoms of stress. Lack of exercise and fresh air.
Less time spent interacting as human beings and more time spent participating in that time-honoured, all-consuming anti-social behaviour known as Road Rage.
But these are not motivating factors.
I even managed to find scientific evidence, in a manner of speaking. (Alright, I watched The Daily Show and had a semi-epiphany.)
Consider that a frog, as an experiment, is put in water. The water is heated infinitesimally; the frog gets hotter and hotter until it is boiled alive.
Why didn’t it save itself? (And then the world?)
The frog was so used to adapting to the small changes in its environment it accepted its fate without question.
We, my friends, are frogs. Traffic is going to eventually get so bad we’ll end up spending four hours each way on our daily commute, and won’t be able to remember when we started putting our fog lights on to see through the exhaust fumes.
Now, if they’d offered that frog a fly, maybe he would have hopped out of the Water of Death and had another chance at life.
So, Plan 1: Start offering flies to people.
We’d then have to solve the problem of getting people to talk to each other and not their hands-free headset.
Plan 2: Start a social networking site for car-poolers…Carbook? Gasketcase?
I even have, for a miniscule fee, the slogan.
Come on guys, get tyre wise.

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