Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The 710am 348 to Manukau

The 7:10am 348 bus to Manukau is an interesting experience. My first reactions to it were purely defined by an early morning fug that those of us who do not do mornings know too well. However as I slowly adjusted to the early starts, I started to reflect on how a bus journey can represent a lot. Many on there were like me, making their way to work, wrapped up well against the early morning chill with perhaps a coffee in hand and muesli bar to munch. There is a certain friendliness and community that builds by those experiencing together the sometimes harrowing experience of Auckland city transport.
The wheels on the bus...

But others were less well wrapped up, less fortified with a steaming coffee and breakfast. The bus journey sees a variety of people get on and off, a Samoan mother with five kids, struggling to get the full bus fare together for her kids to go to school, a young Maori boy without a jacket on a 10 degree morning. The lumbering Waka Pacific bus goes past streets and streets of run-down, overcrowded housing, past many who cannot even afford the bus fare at all.

Privilege is an interesting word, defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group”. I am very aware that by virtue of my middle class, pakeha, relatively comfortable upbringing I am immediately granted certain privileges. It is considered normal for me to attend university, in fact, it would probably be considered unusual if I didn’t. I can afford to top up my hop card when I need to get the bus to the dentist, I can at a stretch also afford to go to the dentist when I need too.

Soon I will driving my car down the South Western Motorway to Manakau instead of the 7:10 348 journey. Part of me rejoices at the extra half hour in bed in the morning and the warmth of car heating on my way to work. But the other part of me wonders what I will lose by not taking the bus. Should not unfair privilege, like poverty, be something that we should be fighting? It is something that needs to be seen, and questioned, not just assumed. Because once you become aware of injustice, it is a lot harder to ignore.

By Annaliese Johnston - Social Policy and Parliamentary Unit intern


  1. These are the people in your neighbourhood, rejoice and engage, it might be the only time you touch base with your neighbourhood.
    As for the car? Now that is what i call poverty for the planet.

  2. Myr Lock, I agree! I love my neighbourhood of Onehunga, it is one of the most diverse and vibrant neighbourhoods I have lived in, and I plan to stay and engage there as much as possible.