Thursday, March 5, 2009

Cheaper going further on early suburban rail

The Western or Kaipara line was completed by the mid 1880s, when passengers were able to journey between Mt Eden and Newmarket without having to hop off and take the horsebus or go by foot. It seems that from that point on, things became quirky as far as fares went.

In 1885, the NZ Herald remarked that, while a passenger could journey from Mt Albert to Auckland for a shilling, first class -- if said passenger tried boarding at Newmarket to return to Mt Albert, a shorter distance, he stood to pay more: 1 shilling tuppence. The less you travelled, it seemed, the more you paid.

Somewhere I have an article (I can't find it at the moment) where a train user at the turn of the century, buying a ticket to Kingsland from the city, decided to get off at Mt Eden instead, and was promptly fined for using the cheaper Kingsland ticket to just go to Mt Eden (the stop before Kingsland).

Yesterday, I found the following letter published in the Weekly News, 14 April 1900, written by a noted West Auckland settler, John Gardiner:

"Sir, --

It is tacitly understood by the travelling public that the farther you go the less, in a given proportion, you pay per mile. However, the Kaipara railway fares are an exception to this law -- or, rather, they are in the inverse ratio, because the further one travels the more one pays in proportion per mile.

The case in question is this: For a ticket between Kaukapakapa and Mount Eden you pay 7s 5d, and from Kaukapakapa to Auckland 8s 3d, making a difference of 10d, whereas the ordinary charge from Mount Eden to Auckland is 3d. This is preference with a vengeance! This is how they swell the railway returns at the expense of that easily plucked goose, the country settler. Sir Robert Peel said the science of political economy lay in plucking the goose without causing it to squeal.

"When I remarked to the stationmaster that my remedy would be to take a ticket to Mount Eden station and there purchase one to Auckland, he said the Mount Eden master would close the window and not allow such purchases till the train had gone. Would you kindly let the public know in a foot-note if he can lawfully do this? I am, etc., John Gardiner, Glorit, April 14, 1900."

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