Here in Dunedin we have marked the day in a most exciting and acceptable manner - by putting on commuter trains in a city that normally has none.
So this morning I commuted (from Waitati to Dunedin) in a lovely old wooden excursion train carriage courtesy of the magnificent TAIERI GORGE RAILWAY.
The trip took an hour and travelled over some of the most beautiful scenery anywhere on this earth. Yay!
Here are just some of the views from the train window, only minutes from the beach house where I have spent the winter:
This railway event was agitated for and promoted by Dunedin rail revival group GET THE TRAIN. (Here's a link to their blog.) They've been very successful in persuading the powers that be to run a few experiments with short rail journeys from Mosgiel, Port Chalmers and Waitati to Dunedin. There have been commuter trains at the beginning and end of the day, and trains timed more for middle-of-the-day excursions.
Recreational 'suburban' rail outings were held most recently in the July school holidays, and more are scheduled for next week - Wednesday 30th September. (This is quite apart from the excellent tourist rail ventures which leave Dunedin daily.)
Along with about 300 other people, I took the July return trip from Waitati to Dunedin. Here's a link to the Channel 9 TV report on it.
Some of the children on that trip had never been on a train before.
Today's trip was supported by the Dunedin City Council, so in the spirit of "giving credit where it's due" some suck-ups gave the Mayor (not a well-loved civic leader because he has bulldozed into being an extremely unpopular stadium that most ratepayers don't want) a bouquet of flowers to thank him for the subsidy. The good-natured train lovers were grateful for a chance to have one day's worth of train travel and most of them dutifully applauded.
But the local and central governments refuse to even consider suburban rail for Dunedin. "There just isn't the population to support it" they say. Funny how they have felt justified in committing this poor small population to outrageous levels of debt in order to fund their STUPID STADIUM.
We absolutely don't have the population to support that white elephant stadium. We'd much rather support train travel, and the cost of the stadium would be much better spent on facilities that would build communities rather than overburden them with debt for the sake of a very few.