Last week we got an electric multiple unit train from Wellington to Waikanae on a Thursday at 4:40 pm — it was packed and had standing room only as far as Mana.
Today we got the Capital Connection at 5:15 pm — it was pretty full with few spare seats noticed in the 6 cars. It was more comfortable with nicer seats than the units and the tables between some bays of 4 seats provide handy laptop areas for those who want to work. There is also a small shop on board and you can buy food and drink items — you’re not allowed to consume anything on the units.
Although at this time of year the whole trip is in darkness, it would be pleasantly scenic in the summer. It was also nice to be on an express service (no stops) as far as Paraparaumu. Some got off there, more at Waikanae, but the majority were going further north.
It is apparent to us that:
1. There is almost no capacity in the units for any more passengers out of Wellington at that time of day
2. There are a lot of people who travel on the train north of Waikanae.
For those interested in boosting patronage as far as Waikanae on the CC to counter the misleading statistics that the NZTA is putting forth as an excuse to scuttle the service, it should be pointed out that it doesn’t cost a whole lot more if you buy a 10 trip card, only $1.60 extra a trip and probably worth it for the faster transit time. If you have a Gold Card, the one way cost as far as Waikanae is $11, only $1 more than a ticket on the units (you can’t use your Gold Card on the units at that time of day).
So does withdrawing this service make any sense? Definitely not.