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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Blog - Take the bus, this dust is just too much! (Drivetalk)

Take the bus, this dust is just too much!

Last updated 11:06 03/03/2011
A skeleton bus service has been set up to start in Christchurch today, and hopefully if a single bus can replace 30 cars - in an ideal situation - then the dust created by dried liquefaction will be less of a factor.

With summer norwesterlies, the dust problem is exacerbated.

Not only that, this is no ordinary dust, coming as it does from underground and probably mixed with all sorts of human-generated waste and other nasties. They're advising us to boil water before we drink it, but that's all to nought if we're breathing this stuff in.

I'm keeping my driving to a minimum. I feel just a little embarrassed about "road testing" and the usual stuff involved in a motoring editor's life, but with the Fairfax group's material to generate, it doesn't stop.

What I've found out is that there's sufficient salt and other corrosive nasties in the silt/dust we're talking about that if you must drive, then it would pay to get the mess off your car as soon as you can.

However, with water at a premium, you can't exactly wield the hose over your car willy-nilly.

So it's best to think about whether you really need to drive at all, and if there's no reason for you to be out on the road - your job, shopping or for health reasons, then I'm sorry, you're a rubbernecker, plain and simple.

We've been making sure that the extended family's shopping is included in our trip to the supermarket, so that a single drive covers two or three other people's needs too, while we're fortunate enough to live within a couple of kilometres of things like the doctor and the pharmacy and can walk it. I have to admit that before this quake, I'd have driven such distances.

But that will have to change and the buses will help and maybe enough of us will get used to using public transport that we'll not change the habit when the city opens up properly in the months to come.

The potential to churn up dust will be a factor for some time, and even when it rains, the stuff will splash up on clothing, and driveways.

And this stuff doesn't shift easily. The pants I wore to wade home in on quake day, when I was up to mid-thigh in some liquefaction on my hike 8km home, have been washed twice so far and it looks like they're going to become "gardening pants" so don't let your car become a "gardening car".

Clean it or, better still, don't use it at all if you can, and take the buses - they're going to be free for a couple of weeks. Who knows, you might get to meet a new friend or two!

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