The next target in my campaign to prove that the newspapers are doing their utmost to make ordinary New Zealanders look and sound like whingers is this story in the Herald on Sunday.

In this marvellous work of journalism a commuter is complaining that because she lives in Muriwai Beach she has no choice but to pay the outrageous sum of $29 per day to park in Auckland city. And I agree, $29 a day is an astounding sum of money to park your car if you’re having to pay it every day. That adds up to what, $145 a week, or $580 a month? Or… SEVEN THOUSAND DOLLARS A YEAR, to park.

Now, let’s ignore for a minute that parking prices are driven by demand. The story also indicates that prices in Waitakere and Manukau city are only $3 per day, or less for an entire week than Ms. Auckland Commuter pays daily. Sure, the parking buildings could be price gouging, but no-one is holding a gun to Ms. Commuters head and forcing her to use their service. In other words, the buildings are asking that kind of money because they can.

Let’s also ignore that she actually only pays $16 a day, because she normally aims for earlybird parking. $29 is the rate if she’s held up and misses the discount.

This situation would be compounded if Ms. Commuter was actually forced to pay this money. But she isn’t. Not even an iota. Even though the Herald article says she has no choice but to pay, this completely ignores “park and ride”, a venerable public transport tradition.

Let’s look at that price to park in Waitakere again. $3 a day. So, Ms. Commuter could drive to Waitakere, park, and catch a bus to her work. Checking prices at this handy Auckland website, it would cost her $5.40 in one direction. That’s a grand total of $13.80 per day. Which is still expensive. But, a ten-trip ticket for the bus would bring that down a by a staggering $1.10 per day, or approximately $260 a year (which is a little less that two weeks of her current parking costs…). It’s also $2.20 ($520 a year) cheaper than her earlybird parking.

But to be honest, this is a crappy scenario. Ms. Commuter is actually better off driving to the closest cheap parking, and then getting the bus in. She’ll likely pay more to park, but will save on time and bus fares. What she needs to do is not think “I’m forced to drive to the closest place to work possible”, and think out her options, of which she has many.

I can see that some people would think my having a go at Ms. Commuter and calling her a whinger a little mean. Some people have to live commute because they can’t afford to live close to work.

But… Ms. Commuter just moved to Muriwai on the West Coast. For those of you who aren’t familiar, Muriwai is a highly desirable beach location. So either she’s a low-income earner who’s found an absolute cracker of a property, a renter who’s made the crazy decision to live miles away from work, or the more likely scenario, she’s on decent money.

What this also says to me is that, if Ms. Commuter has purchased at Muriwai, then she could have taken that parking and petrol money and bought a nice place nearer work. After all, $7000 on parking, and likely an equal amount on petrol, would fund an additional $150,000 on a mortgage.

What we have then is a “human interest story” that makes the person involved look like a whinger. She’s making stupid choices that are costing her an arm and a leg, and the newspaper has told the whole world about it.

Good one.

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