Brave New World
With plenty of hoopla, including three full pages in the Dominion Post, New World opened their fourth inner-Wellington store this week. It's a New World Metro at the the railway station, and while it looks tiny from the concourse, it expands Tardis-like into the forgotten parts of the station and is actually larger than the Willis St Metro. While some people are unhappy about it, including the proprietors of the old kiosk that it replaced, I can only say: about time!
In Europe, urban railway stations are full of mini-supermarkets, restaurants, small shops and other amenities. Of course, over there they're used for much more inter-city travel and are more like airports than the glorified bus stops we're used to, but with tens of thousands of commuters passing through every day it deserved more than a kiosk, dodgy hot-dog vendor and crummy old pub. As well as making life easier for commuters (and thus possibly saving a few shopping trips by car), it will no doubt be welcomed by local workers, students and residents, and it should be a lifesaver for the poor sods stuck out at Harbour Quays. Personally, I'll just be glad that when I go to visit my drinking buddies marooned in the suburbs, there's somewhere on the way with a good selection of wine, beer and cheese!
Most people won't want to brave the supermarket queues just to get a coffee or paper, but New World is also about to open a new kiosk in the grand old booking hall. As Rosemary Howell said in My Wellington, "[The] booking hall - the most architecturally striking part of the building, is sadly underused. ... So, why not use this space as a booking hall, as intended? Why not include a quality café with terrace-style seating? Why not install information services for tourists?" The new kiosk will go some way towards ensuring that one of Wellington's greatest interior spaces actually gets some life.
I hope that as part of the wider renovations, some good use is found for the old kiosk space closer to the platforms. Presumably the previous occupants were given the boot to ensure New World a monopoly over station patrons, but I'm sure some sort of vendor or service could be found that complements rather than competes with the supermarket. Now all we need is to do something about Trax, and Wellington's public transport hub will acquire the dignity, functionality and vitality that it deserves.