At its core, the argument over between the proposed City Centre to Mangere light-rail line and a Puhinui-Airport heavy rail spur boils down to the importance we place on serving direct trips between the City Centre and the Airport, compared to the importance we place on meeting other transport needs of the city. If the goal is simply to provide a fast trip for airport travellers who are heading downtown, then of course you can see why the rail spur idea feels like an attractive option. There’s a heavy rail line not far from the airport, the land in between is largely farmland.

Some people travel to and from airports quite frequently (politicians especially!) but for most people the Airport is a place they might visit once or twice a year, if that. Furthermore, aside from international travellers and business travellers, most people using the Airport will be coming from all places across Auckland rather than just the city centre.

What this means is that services which focus solely on Airport travellers often struggle. A good example of this is The Union-Pearson Express service in Toronto where three years ago a short 3km line was built to connect the airport to the existing rail network. On paper, the service should do well. Toronto is a large city with more than 6 million people living nearby and the airport is busy, moving more than 47 million people last year to make it the 30th busiest in the world. The service is decent enough too with trains running every 15 minutes from 5am through to 1am and averges 56km/h to cover the 23km to the city.

Yet the airport train has struggled to attract sufficient ridership because it was so focused on a narrow market:

Toronto’s high-end airport express train is a failure. A city that urgently needs better transit has been saddled with a deluxe boutique rail service that cost $456-million to build and runs nearly empty, 19 1/2 hours a day.
The Union-Pearson Express (UPX) takes just 25 minutes to make the trip between Toronto’s Pearson Airport and the Union Station transportation hub at the heart of the downtown. That’s where the good news ends.

This publicly funded line was inexplicably designed as a premium service for business travellers, with a one-way fare of $27.50. That makes it a pointless option for the average commuter. But just to emphasize that point, UPX incorporates only two inconvenient stops along its route.

Even business travellers aren’t exactly thronging to UPX. Not all of them are heading for a single-downtown destination, it turns out, and few of them are sacrificing the door-to-door convenience of a cab or limo. Trains are running at under 10 per cent capacity and carrying about 2,200 riders a day, and falling – aggravating the frustrations of ordinary Torontonians who badly want and need transit to and from downtown, but whose tax dollars were arbitrarily redirected to this white elephant on wheels.

More recently fares have been slashed and ridership has grown a bit, but a city much larger than Auckland has struggled to support a service that is so solely focused on Airport travellers.

Light-rail’s strength is that serving air passengers is just a small part of what this line will do. This is outlined in ATAP, with air travellers being probably the least important of the four key jobs the project is tasked with – notably only 4% of trips along the corridor in the morning peak are expected to be “end to end” traveller journeys:

While a heavy rail spur from Puhinui (if it was even possible to build in a cost-effective way, which is highly doubtful) would be able to meet the needs of 4% of trips along the light-rail corridor, it doesn’t help the other 96% of trips. This means it won’t help reduce city centre bus congestion, it won’t provide better access to jobs at the airport for people living in Mangere, Onehunga, Mt Roskill, or areas to the south and east of the Airport, and it won’t unlock the major growth opportunities along the corridor. In short, even if you build the heavy rail spur you still need light-rail.

The other big loser from the heavy rail spur idea are people living along the Airport to Botany corridor. This area, as shown in the map below, is a critical employment catchment for the Airport and a key part of the future rapid transit network.

While its exact route is still being worked out, conceptually this corridor provides a one-seat journey into the Airport for a large part of south and east Auckland – and then with a connection at Puhinui access to the entire rail network. Once again this is discussed in ATAP:

A heavy rail spur means that (assuming there is a connection point at Puhinui) everyone east of Puhinui now loses their one-seat ride to the Airport, while everyone south of Puhinui on the rail network still needs to change trains at Puhinui. Once again a lot of people lose out, just to save a few minutes for direct trips between the city centre and the Airport.

Therefore in summary, if you compare a Puhinui spur with light rail, you get a bit of a win for people travelling between the city centre and the Airport, but at a huge loss for everyone else. Instead of helping to fix many of Auckland’s most significant transport and housing problems, you get a line that’s probably going to be mainly used by international tourists and business travellers. That doesn’t make any sense to us, which is why we much prefer what’s outlined in ATAP and our Congestion Free Network: a light-rail link from the north and a bus rapid transit connection from the east.

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230 comments

    1. Hahaha, the Herald! Good one! Hell would freeze over before Bernard Boresman would write a balanced piece on anything. Journalism at it’s blinkered, non-fact checked worse.

      I think the discussion is becoming a pointless task where you are trying to convince people that simply cannot be convinced. Like trying to get Climate change deniers to believe the planet is burning up.

      All we can do is hope the Government, NZTA and AT listen and actually come out with some news, facts and info soon rather than later.

      1. OMG that wronged headed stupidity of that Herald editorial today had John Rougham’s sticky fingerprints all over it.

        I suspect much of this muddying of the waters is just a rear-guard action from the know nothings and do nothing C&R mindset that seems to dominate the Herald’s editorial policy.

        Newspapers subscriptions these days are only really purchased by an aging white boomer demographic who led the Rogernomics charge in their younger days and are fundamentally suspicious of PT as something that they don’t use and worse, might mean their rates could go up.

        1. I think you will find the reason PTUA is getting so much media space is that Jon Reeves the head of PTUA is also according to his linkedin profile “Account Manager at NZME” which is the publisher of the Herald.

          1. Once upon a time, the Herald would have been required to reveal they are quoting a member of their staff, no?

            Now as I understand it, the Herald doesn’t even reveal if a piece was written to a lobbyists’ or advertisers’ brief.

        2. NZME is heavily dependant on advertising from motoring. The Herald publishes a motoring supplement “Driven” every Wednesday and Saturday which generates substantial advertising income and no doubt also helps general circulation. During the rest of the week motoring related advertising is also significant. For them there is no compensating income source from a growing public transport and cycling sector. Their editorial position is therefore rational to maintain profitability, but it is dishonest for it to sell this as in the public interest.

          1. I always wished the NZME traffic announcements, which tend to go something like “Northern is slow, Southern is jammed, and the Western is at a crawl due to a crash” would follow with “but all rail lines are running fast and to schedule!” However, I doubt getting people out of cars suits their advertising model.

          2. TVNZ are required to be “commercial” hence their content is not totally independant of their major advertisers interests.

    2. Recently I posted some critical comments with regards Mike Lee’s stand against the light-rail-to-airport plans on a FB discussion thread he is running. These included my posting links to both Simon Wilson’s article in the Herald (‘Airport Trams or Airport Trains: It’s the wrong Question’, 12 Oct, 2018) and to this GreaterAuckland article. Mike swiftly blocked me from the thread and defriended me on FB. Personally, this falls far below what I expect from someone who is seeking political office – at any level, local body or otherwise – in a western democracy, where debate should be encouraged. He will certainly not be getting my vote.

    1. Yes yes yes but if you use Google maps and photoshop you can clearly see how easy it is to draw a straight line from Puhinui to the airport. It’s just common sense. //sarc//

        1. And crucially you put up with the jostling on the Piccadilly Line precisely because as part of the Underground it connects to rest of London’s transport options.

      1. London is also one of the top 3 global financial centres I would think. I highly doubt that Toronto can expect to get the same level of affluent train travellers that London can achieve.

        1. Given that the Heathrow Express is less than half full most of the time it’s doubtful that even London has enough affluent train travellers to sustain a service like this.

          1. and crossrail might harm the heathrow exp further. Yet people in Wellington see happy with the premium airport bus despite the much cheaper metlink one round the corner.

          2. They’ll be less impressed when the Airport Flyer stops taking Snapper card next month. Cash or EFTPOS only? That will be efficient…

  1. For me at least, the big advantage of light rail (actually rail in general) is the reliability of the time to the airport. I don’t care so much if the trip takes 40, 50 or 90 minutes. What i want to know is if I have a 6.30pm flight, I can leave at x time and be sure I’ll arrive y time at the airport. I am sick of building extra hour(s) into my planning just in case someone has a serious accident on the motorway, or just that it is raining and there are major roadworks somewhere.

    I don’t think this reliability factor has been emphasised as much as it should have been.

      1. Alan you sound like somebody that wants to get there yesterday and if you can’t you hop in your sardine tin with 4 bits of rubber attached and join a queue only to be helled up with everyone else , and it just shows how time poor you and everyone else that moans about PT areso just relax and enjoy the journey

  2. The idea that rail to the airport will hurt the Airport to Botany corridor is a joke. Rather heavy rail to the airport can be part of this corridor. Namely a Manukau to Airport train and then bus and eventually light rail to Mangere.

    As for the reasons for the Toronto service failing its obvious. They priced it too high (Sydney has the same problem). If the airport service cost the same as any other train trip of a similar distance it shouldn’t have any problem. I’m sure Auckland can support a rail service to the airport if the fare from Britomart (or any city rail link station) is the same as that to Manukau or Mangere.

    As it happens I personally prefer the Otahuhu option of heavy rail from Otahuhu via a tunnel under Mangere coming out after Kirkbride Road and from there to the airport. I accept that light rail may be the shorter term option but any light rail route in my view should be future proofed for the day when Auckland has 2 million plus people and we want to build the Otahuhu option or something similar

    1. They subsequently reduced the ticket price on the UPX to a very reasonable $CAD9.00, heavily subsidised by the people of Toronto and it still doesn’t attract enough punters.
      Like the Heathrow Express and AirportLink in Sydney all these airport-CBD rail links operate in isolation from the city they’re supposed to serve and just become expensive white elephants. The outcome for Auckland will be the same.

      1. $18 daily return fare would not be affordable for most airport workers. If standard HOP card rates were applied from CBD to Airport, it would be a much more reasonable $9.60 return.

        1. Britomart to airport express rail will almost certainly be $20+ each way.
          The $9.60 return fare that you mention however, will be the cost on the proposed LRT with the added benefit that the service will actually go where airport workers might live.

          1. Surely they could do what some rural ferries do. High cost for one. Much lower average for many trips. Say $15 for one journey. $50 for a week

        2. Well, it wasn’t designed for airport workers. That’s part of the problem.

          I do believe there is a special rate for airport workers for that train, but let’s face it – how many people who work in the airport are going to live in expensive parts of the city like downtown areas.

          There just isn’t enough people who fly in and want a direct train to town to justify the cost of designing an express rail line like so.

        3. Ok then what about Oslo to Gardermoen, Paris to Charles De Gaull, and all the other countless other successful heavy rail to airport to city lines all over the world. The writer picked one slightly failed line and is using it to justify his argument!! Nuts to that, anyone should be able to see through it.

          1. Gatwick Express is always busy and the Heathrow Express has now been taken over by TfL. Patronage will change.

    2. It’s all so easy to say let’s just run heavy rail straight to Manukau when looking at a map or satellite image, but if you put on your hard hat and grab your surveyors staff and trek down to Puhinui Stream to map elevation along that route you will find yourself with a vexed choice between an 800m tunnel under the main trunk and motorway or a maximum gradient rail bridge over the same and then again over the stream and again over Roscommon Road and so-on. These are exactly the same kind of costs that sank the original route from Onehunga through Mangere. That surely not being enough to convince the hardened enthusiast, the trip itself is more or less useless, as the number of people needing to go between the airport and Manukau Station is surely tiny. The number who would be more willing to go there, wait and transfer onto another train to go back to the main trunk and possibly transfer again to wherever else they want to be… has got to be close to none. If there are to be endless alternatives proposed, let’s at least make them firstly, technically feasible, and also firstly, provide a service people actually need.

  3. The emotional nature and what appears biased claims in this post comes across as very similar to what I read in the NZ Herald.
    A rail spur would give quick access to the Southern line stations without having to go all the way to K’rd to link to the light rail system which is a lot longer quicker or to catch us bus from Puhinui.

    Buses maybe fine for those who normally use them – but as a regular train user I find buses from airports a nightmare and a lot of extra stress when travelling – and all there seems little consideration of the standard user when it comes to this issue. I experienced bus confusion in Dublin and even Queenstown recently.

    Claiming Heavy rail from Puhinui only services the City is complete emotive rubbish – it is only one factor (if a major factor) being pushed.

    1. Well Adam that what these people say they want: ‘an express train from downtown’. No stops till Puhinui, That literally just serves downtown… a very narrow market I know, but there you have it.

      Also I’m sorry buses confuse you. One that goes from a train station without stopping to the airport will be pretty clear, and not beyond ‘the standard user’ which clearly you are not. After all by far the majority of transit journeys in Auckland take place on buses. Bus riders are exactly the definition of the standard user.

      1. The strongest play with the Puhinui-Airport bus link is to treat it just like the inter-terminal shuttle bus. Practically, Puhinui is almost the edge of the Airport area anyway, so why not just rename the station “Puhinui/Airport” and make the bus free by cross-subsidising from the Airport business model?

        1. The bus will be free for anyone arriving at Puhinui by train or another bus… it’s in the same zone so no extra charge.

          I do thing a name like Puhinui Gateway is a good idea.

        2. Yes it’s essentially an extension of the inter terminal service. Direct, with with priority all the way, but also serving the business zones around the terminals, so important for workers. You will essentially be at the beginning of the Airport sector once you arrive at the new Puhinui Station.

        3. In Brisbane, travelers can purchase $5.00 terminal transfer tickets to get between the domestic/international terminals on the Airport train, despite the Airport offering a free terminal transfer bus. There must be some money/demand in it for them…

    2. Always funny when posters lament others’ bias, and then in the very next sentence impose their own suggestion based on personal preference (“as a regular train user…”)

      The airport bus link will be just like stepping off one train and onto another. A seamless transition as it has a dedicated corridor and no competing vehicles.

    3. “Buses may be fine for those who normally use them.”

      Thanks. That tickled me pink. We’re now planning a two-tier public transport network.

      1. I genuinely would be interested in how much annual use is by people using buses once only, twice only etc. Even better if could describe them. Eg. Does more than 50% of NEX use happen by people who use it over 20x per year.?

    4. Given that what’s being offered by PTUA and Transport 2050 et al is an EXPRESS service between the airport and Britomart it’s hardly ‘emotive rubbish’ to worry that potential ridership has been too narrowly focussed.

  4. With HR you would still have the entire Har network as catchment (they can take HR either to the city or Puhinui and transfer there). I don’t think it would or should be a no-stops Express service but more a limited stops express.

    You forget the airport workers of which there are thousands who can take the train from Pukekohe etc, Manukau, or from anywhere North of Puhinui, not too mention travellers on the RRR coming up from Hamilton etc.

    LR would still be built along Dom Rd so the only people to miss out in an HR option are those in Mangere. There is quite a bit of space there, no reason why there couldn’t be vastly improved bus service to Onehunga or Otahuhu (both of which have HR, or through to Dom Rd to connect with the LR. This would save about a billion or more from the LR cost by not having to build down to Onehunga and over a bridge to Mangere etc.

    As mentioned previously, with the 3rd and 4th main there is no reason why there couldn’t be 20 minute (3TPH) service to the airport with next to no effect on other services (in fact you might get people taking the express to Puhinui then transferring to other services to the likes of Pukekohe potentially saving them 5+ minutes travel time. This would free up capacity on those services in the busier inner part of the network too. To get the airport frequency up you would run an EMU as a shuttle back and forth between Airport and Puhinui (or through to Manukau if desired). This would be 3TPH giving a total of 6TPH to Airport @ 10 minute frequency.

    As for Botany, this can be the BRT as planned or if desired this could be LR.

    1. Ok let’s take your proposed plan from a few locations and compare it with LRT to onehunga and BRT to puhinui with some back of the envelope calculations.

      CBD
      HR – quicker, 0 changes
      LRT+BRT – slightly slower, 0 changes

      South of Manukau
      HR – same, 1-2 changes
      LRT+BRT – same, 1-2 changes

      Isthmus
      HR – same/slower, 1-2 changes
      LRT+BRT – same/faster, 0-1 changes

      East
      HR – much slower, 2-3 changes
      LRT+BRT – much faster, 0-1 changes

      West
      HR – much slower, 2-4 changes
      LRT+BRT – much faster, 1-2 changes

      Shore
      HR – slightly faster, 1-2 changes
      LRT+BRT – slightly slower, 1-2 changes

      We need to stop viewing airport rail in a silo; the whole point of CFN and ATAP is NETWORK, and making the network as accessible as possible for everyone. LRT and BRT just does it better from that perspective.

      I know, it sounds nice to have a direct, comfy ride from town but when it comes to giving as many people quality access to transit to many places including the airport, LRT+BRT just does it better.

    2. The issue around Mangere missing out with Puhinui HRT would be solved by proceeding with the sabotaged Onehunga to airport HRT line. Then extending this to Puhinui to allow trains to run to Manukau. This is a shorter route than CBD to Puhinui route and increases the catchment. If LRT is the solution, the airport should not be a terminal, but rather continue to Manukau via Puhinui. Single tracking of Onehunga could be solved via passing loops if double tracking is not feasible. Modern signalling can make this quite efficient. Past experience indicates that saying we’ll connect the airport via buses from Puhiniui now and put LRT in later means we’ll still have buses 20 years from now as priorities changed. The important thing is what is the outcome desired? Seems to be commuter catchment in the South, Mangere, Onehunga, efficient airport connections for passengers and workers. Take that as your outcome and work back from there.

  5. I worry that the good thoughts here are reverberating around this echo chamber while misinformation is peddled in the MSM. NZTA and AT are doing a poor job of responding. Does Greater Auckland plan to engage with the debate outside of this forum? It would be a tragedy if Auckland snatched defeat from the jaws of victory by scrapping a whole new RNT in favour of an under-utilised spur tacked onto an existing network with limited capacity.

    1. Second this call from Jack. With this issue and with many others, GA does not get enough coverage in MSM. Somehow, this has to change. You’ve called out ATs comms strategy recently but I’m thinking we need to do the same to GA. I say this as a huge supporter. As far as evidence based clear thinking goes in the the transport and urban planning sphere, GA is without peer in my opinion. It’s a travesty this is not far more widely read. It could play a critical educational role. Of all public sectors, from my perspective it seems like transport and urban planning is one of the most data rich, yet emotional pieces that fly in the face of comprehensive evidence seem to proliferate in MSM. What more can we do?

      1. Yes. I’ve been asking AT for material to use in community engagement on some of the big questions. I’m not sure what they’re going to come up with. Maybe GA can think through what’s needed for community education / engagement, and if (as I suspect) they can provide a more comprehensive strategy than AT has, offer to assist AT?

      2. GA has made numerous overtures and regularly offers articles and comment, which are usually rejected immediately. The mainstream media (i.e. the New Zealand Herald) see GA and it’s ilk as a threat to their business model. Remember they exist to sell advertising in paper newspapers… which they sell to a certain demographic. Free blogs doing better analysis of actual evidence don’t sell newspapers.

        However Ill though emotive positions insinuating the government is failing or has got something wrong, that does sell newspapers. Paper buying boomers love nothing more than the suggestion that the mayor is spending their rates money on a boondoggle. The people who actually buy newspapers (not those who read online) are the same group who call talkback radio and vote for NZ First because they don’t like the Chinese because they’re Chinese and think dole bludgers should be put to work breaking rocks in a quarry.

        1. The few times I’ve listened to talkback radio, it’s very obvious who most of them vote for and it isn’t NZ First. Without NZ First there would be no need to debate the value of LR or HR to the airport or anywhere else because it wouldn’t be happening for 30 years.

  6. There’s probably at least 5 bus stops on the 380 service in the airport prescient if either light rail or heavy rail is built they will be replaced with one train station. This will be alright for travelers but not much good for workers who are working throughout the wider airport area. The other thing is why Puhinui and not Papatoetoe for the bus. The trip down Wylie road is almost as direct as Puhinui road. And all the major bus routes converge at Papatoetoe. 313 is the only bus that goes anywhere near Puhinui and even then it is at least 100 yards away from the station.

    1. We have just got workers used to changing at Papatoetoe station and bus stops for the 380 bus to the airport then you want to change it.

      1. The improvement will be huge. I have sat on that bus stuck in traffic trying to get to Papatoetoe station for ages, furthermore the transfer is awful, long and exposed.

        With dedicated bus lanes and new high quality transfer at Puhinui will be so much better.

        1. I like trains a lot, but they aren’t always they right toll for every job. I also like all sorts of trains, and I especially like new well designed trains running on efficient high value patterns that make economic sense so we can then get more trains on more routes.

          This obsession with the airport and heavy rail makes no sense.

          We have to use our brains and well as our emotions in this business.

          1. Patrick I am a fan of all things rail but you have to remember with LR running along the streets there is more likely hood of them being derailed by eran’t motorist and trailers on cars and trucks losing items off them causing a derailment that could close both tracks and the time it would take to get them back up and running . So people will still have the choose of HR still to get to or from the Airport . With any derailment AT will have to find buses from everywhere to keep the service running , yes .and that section of road may be close for say 24-48hrs like what happened at Britomart earlier this year

          2. David, other than crossing a few intersections, there will be no interaction between LR vehicles and traffic. There is to be no mixed traffic running.

      2. Royce, that depends a lot on what the network looks like after the fact.

        You’re assuming that the existing buses are dropped, rather than being kept and having an new BRT line added on a different alignment. You’re also assuming that there are no changes or improvement to local routes either.

        Who knows if its one, both or neither of those outcomes.

        1. Well as long as its an improvement for workers in the area but it seems to me that we won’t end up with both Papatoetoe station and Puhinui station both being major transport hubs on adjacent stations and Manukau as well being the next adjacent station also a major hub.I see Puhinui as inferior for passengers in Botany, Otara Mangere East and Papatoetoe. Still if the 380 is retained then it won’t be too bad and presumably it could use the busway and do local stops in the Airport prescient with Buses from Puhinui only serving the Airport terminal.Presumably Intercity buses and other airport coach services will be able to use the busway as well. But as you say Nick.R we will just have to wait for what they come up with..Will the Puhinui service link with the Manukau bus station I expect it will.Maybe there should be a special bus lane from the motorway.for all those coaches arriving from north and south and also for scheduled buses arriving at the Manukau bus station.

          1. The Puhinui thing confused me at first, but then someone pointed out several key benefits.

            1. It’s on both the Southern and Manukau lines, giving transfer options north, south to Manukau, to Panmure, to the Western line, to NEX.

            2. Puhinui Road is a clear straight corridor right to the train station and then on eastwards on the other side. Easy to fit out as a busway or light rail without booting anyone out.

            3. There is a lot of vacant space both sides of the train station for a bus interchange and future LR overbridge to be built. Looking back through past surveys of the area it seems like that space was intentionally left for this very purpose many decades ago.

            4. Much of the space on the eastern side is actual rail corridor, which makes it technically and legally easy to add train platforms for these Hamilton and Tauranga and Wellington trains to stop on their way to and from the city.

            These things make my surveyor heart pulse with increased warmth.

  7. Thanks for writing this piece – it’s good to have the arguments distilled into one location. What I don’t understand about the PTUA polemic is the sheer elitism of their argument. That they appear comfortable that the needs of the (4% or whatever) should override the needs of the residents of the wider south-west Auckland region I find quite astounding. That they believe that a travel time difference of a few minutes is a significant argument for HR likewise – the time-sensitive traveller will do what they do now – take a cab. That LR can be dismissed because it “won’t accommodate luggage racks” is completely specious – of course it could. Yet these arguments get trotted out ad infinitum as if they were compelling and evidence of conspiracy or incompetence (or both) on the part of transport planners. And they completely ignore the “network benefits” of the proposed LR route – I suspect because it doesn’t suit the rest of their argument. And they ignore also the huge housing development which has already been announced along the route – this on a scale most don’t yet appreciate.

    Re the possibility of a route from Otahuhu to the airport – this has been canvassed in the past and suffers still from most of the other disadvantages of HR. What has been less well canvassed is the impact this would have on the local community (unless it was tunnelled at vast expense). There would be an insurrection in the area if such a physically divisive proposal was to get serious airtime. Absolutely not going to happen!

  8. Why not both?

    I’m a convert to the idea of LRT to the airport up Dominion Rd, but that doesn’t block having HR, or LRT for that matter, from the airport to Puhinui and possibly even the start of a new line from the Airport to Manukau and Botany and beyond if feasible.

    Then you can stop the Eastern Line at Otahuhu so you don’t have so many lines using the same tracks – which I’ve always though is almost as ridiculous as having every train having to go through Britomart.

    1. “Why not both?” Well maybe the $billion+ pricetag which would be better spent elsewhere in the region or on fixing up the Hamilton-Papakura rail line, for example.

      1. Great point. The airport BRT link is the start/end of the eventual eastern BRT line to Botany. Might even be LRT in future and the airport a through station.

          1. It’s diverting the money earmarked for road expansion into PT that is what’s needed. We end up paying for it all eventually, no matter who finds the funds initially. The actual projects need to be rationalised, and anything adding to carbon emissions and vkt knocked on the head right now.

          2. Yes, I was just been a bit “out there” in my thinking. The sooner, though, that we move to carbon-free transport, the better given the IPCC’s latest report, which is genuinely and existentially scary. How about electric BRT on this route from the outset?

          3. ??? All I know is that it’s a moral imperative now to move to electric traction, and ASAP. I sincerely hope that this message gets through to AT for the next round of contracts to specify electric-only buses.

          4. Yes, me too. (I was just meaning that the best way to reduce transport carbon emissions is to reduce vkt, radically. For that, we need road reduction alongside all this PT.)

  9. This says it all re just a spur line, way back from the old South-Western Airport Multi-Modal Corridor Project Scoping Report June 2011 (Auckland Transport, the New Zealand Transport Agency, Auckland Council, Kiwi Rail and Auckland International Airport):
    “This option tends to serve areas beyond the study area and along the NIMT, rather than
    the western parts of the study area itself. It provides for travel to the airport from
    destinations further afield, but does so without serving origins and destinations within the
    western part of the study area. Given that many airport employees are likely to be drawn
    from the surrounding area, this option would seem to miss a major opportunity to attract
    regular users.”

  10. This posting is just so discouraging and disappointing. Yet again we have stirring up negativity over some perceived threat to the LR to airport scheme. Completely
    failing to understand that other people have differing views this blog brings out some of the worst parochialism concerning PT in Auckland.
    Why are proposals such as an HR spur from the southern line to the airport stirring up such vitriol often resulting in attacking the character of those supporting such schemes?
    Does anyone doubt that Auckland needs (urgently) substantially increased rapid and frequent rail coverage, not just a commuter to CBD delivery system, but various crosstown, north shore, NW out to Kumeu and Helensville, SW+airport, Botany and probably organised into circle/loops to permit reliability with redundancy?
    Would an HR airport spur not just be a section of this future expansion. If there are people seriously wanting to see this done then let them get on with it.
    It is absolutely NO threat to an LR through Mangere to Airport.
    The usual fatalistic reason proferred to squash suggestions such as the Airport HR spur is the defeatist stating that there is no $ available, or that there is limited funding for transport projects, or that it’s not as important or prioratised as urgently as other transport projects which need funding.
    Recently this has been debunked. Completely. Funding is there and available. There are even unsolicited offers such as the Superannuation Fund being used to completely construct and operate the cbd to airport and NW LR systems, the Penlink road link Is another. Which leads to the question Has other non tax/rate payer funding options really been investigated?
    Even so we now have a got that just discovered it had a massive several billion $ surplus. All it can say is that this unexpected windfall needs to be retained as a rainy day fund. FFS, Auckland is screaming out for housing and PT investment, the money is there
    Use it.

    1. I think you have your argument the wrong way round…

      Its the HR die-hards who want the LRT canned and call it disparagingly, a tram. Thats the source of the vitriol.

      No one supporting LRT is trying to kill an HR spur, just pointing out that it is more than a line on a map and prohiibitively expensive. Hence why BRT is being planned for. Which then brings out the HR vitriol for buses…

      1. So when you read these either-or arguments for HR vs LR then is the proper response ‘we probably need both’?
        With LR section Onehunga to Airport looking 20 years away then if an HR spur can be built to airport sometime sooner then go for it.
        Also, get that Onehunga HR over the bridge and at least into Mangere to provide rapid PT sooner than 20 years.

        1. Light rail: $1 billion (approx).
          Heavy rail: $2.2 billion (approx).

          Are we $1.2b better off by building the HRT spur? That’s your bar. Show your workings. Remember to carry the one etc.

          1. Yep. By all means push for an HR spur, all people like me are saying is show us your analysis to show it can work. Because all tbe expert analysis has shown for a myriad of reasons, it wont.

            And if you wont do that, dont disparage the evidence or the alternative solutioms.

            Its not as simple as just drawing a line on a map.

          2. There you go, ‘either or’ logic again and $1.2bn better off by not investing in PT. Can’t you grasp the bigger picture and see that expansions to the rail network, even if they are piecemeal are not hare-brained ideas but investment in NZ’s future?
            The $ exists to build the LR system AND expand the HR network
            Or don’t you believe this?

          3. If we have money to build LRT via Onehunga and HR to Puhinui, we should build LRT via Onehunga and LRT to Botany.

            If we still have money for HR to Puhinui, we should quad track the NIMT to Pukekohe.

            If we still have money for HR to Puhinui, we should build the Bombay tunnel.

            If we still have money for HR to Puhinui, we should build a busway on Pakuranga Road.

            We need to prioritise investments.A one station spur to run an express airport service should be a very low priority.

          1. Who says it isn’t. So far nothing has been built, Taxinda hasn’t turned the first sod! These things take years to build, I’d be surprised if we start that airport to Mt Roskill part within the next 10 years.

          2. @Master Chief

            Maybe the government are looking at a way of not doing it now they’ve heard from the experts at the NZTA and Kiwirail?

        2. Yeah don’t even bother with double tracking just build a single track bridge across the harbour and a station at Mangere bridge and one on the western side of the motorway adjacent to Mangere town center and one at Onehunga port and start it next week. Rebuild the Onehunga station on Princes street where it should have being put in the first place and reinstate the Neilson street overbridge. Then build the light rail up Dominion road if you must but in my estimation we are just ten years to late to do that project. Phil Twyfords new housing area in Mangere will be close to the station you can see them pulling down a lot of old state housing in the area right now.
          And Kiwirail could probably come up with some spare bridge spans to place on some piles to cross the harbour. They have just rebuilt a couple of hundred kilometres of railway through Kaikoura in the space of a year so it would be a doddle for them.

          1. Great idea, maybe with a 1.5 trainlength loop and second platform at Onehunga station so the line Penrose to Mangere can have 2 trains in transit at any time.

          2. Thinking about this some more. What about another inland Port for shipping containers at the end of an extended Onehunga line. There is a lot of industry in the area which receive and dispatch shipping containers to Auckland and Tauranga ports. Another site close to the Airport would help relieve road congestion and help negate the need for the East West link. At the moment containers from Auckland Port are sent to Wiri and Southdown. Another inland Port in the industrial area close to the airport would reduce truck trips. One thing that is clear to me is that there needs to be more siding space in Auckland if rail is going to full its potential. The yards of Mainfreight and its subsidiaries seem to be packed with wagons when I go past on the train.

      2. Funny how they refer to trams in Melbourne.

        Secondly. I well remember a number of posters on this forum who referred to a new section of SH1 as the holiday highway.

    2. Yes we do need both as they serve different catchments. Easy. A line from the north, a line from the east (picking up existing north-south Rail Line pax too).

      But, the uncritical assumption that a branch off that rail line delivers a better whole network, an improved rail network, and better airport precinct access for all users, is the technical issue here that matters. I get that a branch looks easy and obvious, but when analysed it’s not so simple (and this even before looking at cost).

      1 branching dissipates core line frequency and capacity after the branch, transfers do not:

      https://humantransit.org/2011/02/basics-branching-or-how-transit-is-like-a-river.html

      An additional branch off the southern line is highly problematic for whole network rail network frequency, efficiency and effectiveness. Too much capacity north of Puhinui, too little south of it. Especially for future growth south. And train slots ARE limited in the CRL. Can’t just wave that problem away and add unlimited train movements (Railways are tough taskmasters).

      2 looking at the whole city a significant gap in the network is an east-west line with the airport as a great employment anchor in the west and the growing populations of Botany via Manukau in east. A branch off the southern doesn’t add this. A new line, of whatever mode, intersecting at Puhinui does. A one-seat ride for these users then.

      3 Bus shuttle from a new transfer station at Puhinui (like the new Otahuhu) but likely to have bus (later LR) running perpendicular and above the rail track, can quickly (priority lanes) run in a circuit to not only the terminal but also the employment zones near there. Rail would only have one terminal station. Both geometries and would cost prohibit mor coverage, it would have to be underground or elevated, after all.

    3. Yup. The manner in which people jump to support the LRT scheme and shoot-down any questioning of it is all a bit dubious.

      Either option of rail to the airport will be expensive and a civil engineering project on the same scale as the CRL itself, taking a similar timeframe of planning and construction.

      What gets me is that people have been convinced in favour of the LRT option because its been presented as being like the light rail that serves the airport in Seattle but have not bothered to look further and question that.
      This LRT proposed for Auckland has had benefits of more frequent stops serving more people as a “benefit” and selling-point.
      But Sound Transit’s central link, while “light rail” (built to its own regulations), is an dress service that has infrequent stops between the airport and Seattle’s CBD.

      You can’t have it both ways.

      The other thing is that people accept the costings from the AT-commissioned report at face value. LRT is many things wonderful but if there;es one lesson cities all over the world have learned; it usually ends-up being a lot more expensive than first bargained-for. Especially the initial networks.

  11. The heavy rail does have a few other advantages that are missing from light rails.

    Freight can use heavy rail instead using roads, which frees up capacity on motorway.

    With the inland port from Hamilton open, the heavy rail can ship goods directly between airport to Hamilton.

    If we go ahead with intercity commuter rail, we could potentially have direct train between Hamilton, and other small towns to Auckland airport.

    IMO, both light rail and heavy rail solve their own set of problems. If we have the money we should build both, or at least build the light rail first, then build the heavy rail.

    1. Yes, it CAN, but what makes it important is that it DOES. What is the magic factor that makes freight go by train instead of 18 wheeler?

    2. Light rail would be a great upgrade for the northern busway. It could then be improved to a pre-metro into the Auckland CBD and then ultimately a full metro line.

      I just think it’s a dumb option for the airport link. Maybe it’s a good upgrade for buses down Dominion Road beyond that; into the other M Roskill side of the motorway only…

  12. So did every person here who is suggesting both the LR and the HR options submit about ATAP, the RLTP, the Transport Growth Networks, saying that the road expansion projects must be stopped, with the money put into PT instead?

    All together, now.

    1. Hmmm, smooothe operator Heidi, slipping in a diversionary refocusing onto the Moar roads bogey man. Next we need a road traffic evaporator canon on a light rails spur alongside motorway.

        1. 🙂 Just clicked you wrote canon, not cannon. Was that clever wordplay I missed? I kind of like the idea of a carbon canon.

  13. Spur to the airport + the spur to Manukau means reducing to one third the train frequency south of the intersection. At the moment I understand the southern line frequency is constrained by the rail traffic using it and that it would not be possible to either add more to the south. Yet we are adding a lot of more potential passengers in the housing development.
    Six unit trains are the present limit and proposals for nine unit is a long way off so I see that we need a bit more thought on this proposal..
    It may well be advisable to designate the line in plans for the future but I don’t see the possibility of it proceeding until we have made the third and fourth line from Manukau to the wharves a reality/completed then maybe follow on with the investigation of this new proposal. It was most unfortunate the Onehunga line to the airport route was protected and is one of the reasons giving for abandoning it.
    It would be nice if the heavy ril could accommodate delivery of containers to the airport vicinity however I don’t think it would be feasible for that to be to the air side and where would you have the marshalling facilities needed outside of the inland port type arrangements.

  14. I’ve not posted here for some time, but I would now like to comment: as someone who has used a lot of different airport rail links (some which work, some which don’t), and whose local airport is served by a tram link (and a bus link which is even more popular; between them, a third of the people using the airport will use bus or tram to get there). Sorry if someone else has already said this, but here goes:

    * Airport surface access needs to be seen as a whole – from/to where, when, and how. Outbound travellers coming from the suburbs whose flight is around lunchtime, will behave quite differently from inbound tourists arriving at the peak whose final destination is in the central city. No-one is giving us these data AFAIK; starting from *this* point is essential to put discussions about a heavy rail spur, or light rail for that matter, in some context.

    * Airport workers’ shift patterns are all over the place, and many jobs start or finish outside the core service hours for any public transport. In those circumstances most workers would still far prefer to drive; because it will take about half the time end-to-end. Even during the day driving will probably be faster.

    * Luggage is a reason why airport public transport services are not used more. In-journey transfers are another. Hence the popularity of taxis and shuttles.

    * Service frequency is a key consideration in airport PT – even more than mode. To get any significant buy-in from the travelling public, you need services a *minimum* of every ten minutes.

    * When in Auckland, my preference is to use the bus to get from the airport to the city centre, and would remain so even with a rail link in place. The reason? The current bus drops me just outside where I stay. People do trade additional travel time for this sort of convenience.

    * A light rail investment is best analysed as a “marginal” investment on top of an already-committed project e.g. LRT down Dominion Rd to Onehunga, or the Botany Rd project. Best not to lump the whole project together.

    Where I live has a tram link to the airport. It is very popular; 20 percent or so of the tram’s total demand is to or from the airport, and it handles 10 percent of the airport’s surface access traffic as a whole. A separate airport bus link handles 20 percent of the airport’s surface access traffic. Airport-to-city travel times are comparable.

    What could be done now? In conjuction with the #380, I would run a free and frequent bus between Papatoetoe Station and the Airport. Not perfect, but this could be a way of testing and developing the market.

    1. Ross – I agree with much of what you are saying, but I have a question about your statement “Luggage is a reason why airport public transport services are not used more”.

      – when you travel to and from Heathrow, do you use the Piccadilly Line (tube train, long travel time, low cost), or the Heathrow Express (HR, super-fast, higher cost), or a taxi/Uber (car, stuck in traffic sometimes, huge cost)? All have a relative similar issue re luggage, no? What do you take?

      1. Hi – the one occasion I’ve landed at LHR for a journey to London proper, I got a hotel shuttle, but on that occasion I had a lot of luggage. Normally I am transferring at LHR to head elsewhere in the UK.

        When I go to or arrive at my home airport, and have luggage, it will generally be by tram (previously by bus), but that’s because I will only have one piece of big luggage and the tram is convenient to where I live. Otherwise, it will be by taxi (I don’t have a car). But thanks for asking!

  15. Matt, you are right. Most airport rail links have low patronage.

    I said the below on the Airport connections, consider the whole network article & will repeat it.

    I disagree with the proposed future rapid transit network, the Ministers preference for light rail & the heavy rail proposal raised yesterday (Puhinui to airport)

    The link from Puhinui to the CBD via the airport is strategic and provides network redundancy & resilience.
    It should all be one mode (not part brt), & it should be heavy rail. This would connect a range of destinations and origin.

    Congestion tolls should be implemented at the same time.

    Redundancy & resilience provided with single mode connection to the main north railway line. Services if needed could be diverted to the Puhinui to the CBD via the airport link if the main line is out for any reason.
    Visa versa if the Puhinui to the CBD via the airport link goes down.

    Cant be done if LR & BRT used (passengers could transfer lines though)

    1. Agreed – the origin/destination of most airport public transport traffic is the central city; from a lot of observation, I would say that intermediate destinations really don’t feature.

      1. Which is true of public transport trips in general – a huge proportion start or end in the city. The problem is that not many trips start or end at the airport. It doesn’t deserve special attention or special funding.

    2. I’d like to see you prove that airport rail links have low patronage, I frequent many airports and from my own personal experience they don’t. We have Matt discussing Toronto but that’s a single example, I can point to many where the airport rail is heavily used.

      1. In which case we need to refocus the question: where does airport rail/LRT work well (Edinburgh, the London airports, Amsterdam, Washington DC, Kuala Lumpur, Stockholm) and where does it not? (Sydney, Toronto, Singapore). And why?

  16. This started out as an airport link that was hijacked into a Mangere line, it’s a stupid waste of resources, the airport line should be heavy rail, it should link into the southern line with options for links to the South, Hamilton and the BOP. If the airport wasn’t there would we be even thinking about trams to Mangere? I doubt it, the tram would stop at Mt Roskill.

    We already have a heavy rail network, we haven’t even started building tram lines, does anyone honestly believe the tram will reach the airport within 10 years, I can’t see it happening.

    People fooling themselves if they think this is anyone but a poorly thought through airport line.

    1. This is the worst argument against anything: ‘it’ll never happen’. Brownlee and Joyce were saying that damn near right up to the day they signed the deal.

      A second railway is a huge advantage for the city rather than splitting and and over-taxing our good little current one. We need both. Complementary. More is very much more here: More coverage, more capacity, more resilience, more choice, more value.

      More eggs, more baskets.

    2. The problem was that heavy rail to the airport never stacked up in terms of cost benefit analysis. The benefits of adding one station to the network are so low and the cost so high. The only way heavy rail was going to get to the airport was if it was a political decision rather than an economic one. Hopefully our politicians are better than that.
      Light rail on the other hand has much higher benefits due to the other 20 odd stations- some of which will have higher patronage than the airport would. It also has much lower running costs.
      The way I see it, heavy rail was never going to happen. Light rail is a pretty good compromise but even then I think it is a pretty poor use of funds. Direct affordable buses are probably the most feasible option for a city the size of Auckland.

  17. The airport is not as important as the light rail line through Dom Road, Mt Roskill, Onehunga (rail connection) and down through Mangere. What about that don’t people understand? And it has to end somewhere!

    I agree, I’d prefer a train ride. But Auckland airport is a small airport, on the global scheme of things. Also, NZ is bloody remote – so other than Kiwis and Aussies, most people will be coming off a long flight and an arsey immigration/customs, and will not want any form of PT.

    In turn, locals and Aussies are more likely to be dispersed across Auckland, whereas non-Aus foreign visitors are likely headed to the CBD.

    Therefore, the local links are probably more useful to those who are amenable to PT after their flight. And tigh backpackers will go on whatever is cheapest. And this doesn’t even begin to cover airport staff, who outnumber passengers in total journeys.

    It’s not a zero sum game. I do think a bus is not the future for Puhinui/Botany. The HR spur is difficult due to frequencies, and a likely VERY complex four-leaf clover junction… if we want southern access to both airport and to Manukau.

    Best off having a second light rail line, all the way to Botany and around. Or if you want Newmarket or the loop, change at Onehunga on the Mangere line. K Road for the western. Easy.

    1. +1 Everyone benefits! More PT Riders, less cars! Less congestion! Hooray! Yes it is NOT a zero sum game, its complex and tricky and there are no guarantees – so lets go with the ideas of some nice people who have actually thought about this whole thing quite a bit and made some evidence based decisions, rather than forming an opinion based on them being Just Right Dammit!

    2. “most people will be coming off a long flight and an arsey immigration/customs, and will not want any form of PT.” – really? Are they really related? Taxi prices from AKL are obscene – if I was a tourist that would piss me off even more. Whether they are backpackers or not, surely everyone would prefer a safe, fast, PT service into town without having to transfer services (and inherent baggage battles that happen with transfers).

        1. Yes but there’s a heck of a lot of people all around Auckland who have no nearby access to public transport and could use it every working day. Over a million in fact – surely we should be addressing that first?.

      1. What’s the spread of where international tourists stay now, with air bnb and its ilk? Those I meet when I’m out on the bus are going all over town (but then of course I’m not on the Sky Bus or the 380).

        What I think they suffer from is not being able to buy HOP cards. If you look up the AT HOP retailer map, it shows a retailer on Ray Emery drive, but not at the airport. Nor is there one at Intercity nor at the Auckland Strand Station.

        So no tourists entering Auckland via PT can buy a HOP card when they get here. How sucky is that? Can’t we make it easy?

        1. Correction: I checked, and the information centre at the airport does sell HOP cards (but doesn’t have timetables). You just wouldn’t know if you were looking at AT’s website, as it’s not shown on the map of the HOP retailers. Suppose I’d better let them know… :/

          1. That HOP map if you click on the marker on that road, it is that info ctr: Top-ups? Yes, Loads Monthly/Day Passes? Yes, Sells AT HOP cards? Yes, Location Address Ground floor Arrivals area Auckland International Airport
            Operating Hours Monday – Sunday: 6am – 10pm

            Ideally they should make them available at the domestic terminal though as well.

          2. Ah good, that’s useful. So they need to change the location for the airport one.

            You took the train to Wellington recently – did you notice any information at the Auckland Strand Station about PT in Auckland? Also, I’m just getting us ready for a train trip – and am really noticing how the Strand is awkward to get to by PT – did you bus there or have someone drop you?

          3. We bus then trained in then the big walk. Could of bused on that Portland Rd bus or inner link to nearby but thought risky be late or something and would have to wait for it anyway. Plus good exercise thinking be sitting in train for 10+ hours. We could of got from Papakura or Uber easier but wanted the full deal.

        2. Where are most of Aucklands hotels located, that will give you a good clue as to where most of the tourists in Auckland stay.

          1. Probably, I just wondered if anyone had any data. There’s airbnb, homeaway, holidayhouses, bookabach, homeforhire, AA baches and holiday houses, etc. Then there’s WWOOFing, Workaway, and all those working-as-you-travel schemes. We do tend to get a lot of young tourists who don’t pay for hotels.

          2. I would have thought most people going to and from the aiport arent even flying (workers). Those who who are in transit, coming from elsewhere in NZ, or are Aucklanders who will be residing mostly outside of the CBD. Others are on business and take cabs anyway.

            The rest are the smallest category of user who will be well served by LR, LR-HR or BRT-HR and he myrid of other options.

          3. Ok Heidi where are almost all of Auckland’s backpacker hostels? Young people want to be in the thick of it not stuck in some out of way suburb.

          4. I dunno, Masterchief, I was asking if anyone had stats.

            Certainly within the gardening and sustainability circles, I’ve only known one young backpacker to stay in a hostel, whereas I’ve met 50 (probably more) in the last three or so years. Several of my friends have Workaway youngsters almost constantly. I’ve even had a few come and stay here when they’re keen to stay on at a friend’s place but she’s already got someone else coming. They’re not all youngsters, either.

          5. What relevance do backpackers have? They are not the target market for a Heathrow Express type service, backpackers are much more likely to be happy with a single seat LR ride that is priced at the regular hop card price.

          6. I don’t understand the Heathrow comparison anyway.

            Its an express service. Its not like the HR option from Onehunga or Puhinui would be offering the same. Talk about strawman.

      2. I agree with you Average Human it seems any transport to or from an airport all the transport operators think that those coming or going are all wealthy people , but what allot don’t realise is that the average person has saved up for sometimes years just to go on holiday but then find that are being ripped of at either end just to get out/in to an airport . So to make all forms of transport just charge the same as the rest of the population of that city pay to get around their town/city .
        Prime example when the ARA was operating the buses the closes you could get to the airport was like 2-3 km then you would have to walk if you wanted to save money , but if you got the airport bus you basically paid 10x the cost of the local service , even if you got a taxi from the end of the local bud route the taxi driver rubbed his hands and charge what he liked to get there
        So they all think we are ‘CASH COWS’ but we are not unless we are using expense accounts which the charges are then passed on to the users of that service .
        So make cheap for everyone to use and then we will become world famous for something else besides being clean and green

        1. Airports are privately owned. I think they try and make money on all transport to and from – taxis, parking and buses. I don’t know how AT managed to get the public bus inside – maybe the airport knew the 380 route would never be real competition. Or maybe AT threatened to close off the road!

          1. Car parking, rental car, taxi , shuttle and dedicated airport bus access provided a huge proportion of the airport income. Hence the airport was not accommodating to public transport options. It instead successfully pressurised the Government and the Council to increase the roading capacity to the airport perimeter.
            Belatedly, after people missed flights, they realised this increased capacity just migrated the traffic jams to inside their own boundary. Furthermore the costs of upgrades to the capacity of its internal roading and parking to meet anticipated airport growth exceeded best economic return of their land. Hence their now strident demands for the Government and Council to provide public transport options, the cost of which has escalated massively only because their own actions had failed to preserve access corridors. I am afraid just an other example of socialising the costs, but privatising the profits.

          2. Auckland is privately owned but many are still in public ownership. Private ownership is probably why AKL is such a mess and badly operated.

          1. It’s traded on the stock market, the Council are a cornerstone investor but they don’t control the airport. If the Canadian Pension fund who wanted to buy it a few years ago had been given approval I’m positive AKL wouldn’t be the mismanaged mess it is today.

      3. Bruv, if I’m getting off a flight from London, I’m getting a cab. Plus the more one’s flight costs, the less a cab is in proportion. Can’t imagine spending $2k on a flight to Auckland, and then bitching about a $50 cab.

        Plus many will be on expenses. These folk are not the market for light or heavy rail, as it would be. Places where airport rail has an actual high take-up are usually down to geography or crippling cost, like Hong Kong, Oslo or Tokyo. Or pure ease, like Amsterdam. Auckland’s airport isn’t that far or inaccessible by car. This is not a dedicated airport link, but the end of a network.

        1. I never use a cab from a London airport, traffic is so shite, I ain’t got patience for that, but then I never stay anywhere disconnected from PT networks…

        2. I made 7 trips to London last year and 4 this year, I took the Heathrow Express every time, bugger catching a cab, it’s slow.

          1. I mostly do too. London is a different beast.

            I was referring to a long-arse flight, arriving in Auckland, London being the longest but quite a typical one.

            24 hours on a plane, I don’t think many will be going for the light rail….

            But as others have said, it’s about choices, options and a network. This is the natural end of the line, and happens to be a destination of its own too. People just obsess about the airport part, it’s boring.

          2. Still we need to remember that the priority user here is not the long haul traveller, as even frequent ones only make a few trips a year, and, as you say, have various reasons for not using any form of transit. But the airport area worker who makes 500 individual journeys a year. Giving that driver a good and affordable mix of options for regularly leaving their car behind will hugely improve access for everyone and everything to this part of town.

          3. Heathrow is irrelevant to this discussion, it has nearly four times as many arrivals as AKL, so of course it is more likely to be able to support multiple rail options.

            Even then the times I have used Heathrow Express it hasn’t exactly been thronging with passengers. This is great as a passenger as there is plenty of space, but not if you are trying to build a case for having a similar service at an airport 1/4th the size.

          4. “24 hours on a plane, I don’t think many will be going for the light rail….”

            Yeah. Why would they take a one seat ride from the airport to the CBD (if that is where they are going) in the same time it probably takes them to get through immigration on a busy day.

            I think what you meant to say was that you, personally, would rather take a hypothetical HR line which is 7mins quicker but costs a billion dollar more. Because you like HR and costs, alignment issues, network capacity constraints etc aren’t an issue for wish-lists.

  18. Have a look at station usage in London. http://content.tfl.gov.uk/multi-year-station-entry-and-exit-figures.xlsx
    The Heathrow stations seem to have pretty average usage – about the same as the busier suburban stations do. And that is the sixth busiest airport in the world.
    Why anyone would consider spending billions on a single average station is beyond me. I’m not even convinced it’s worth extending the light rail there let alone building an express heavy rail spur – which will have such low usage that it will need massive subsidies just to cover the running costs.

  19. Moving to Auckland recently after living in many major cities around the world, I’m hearing more and more about future proofing the city, because of a history of decisions made in the past. Keen to understand what modelling there has been done on future combined travel needs of passengers, workers and residents, across all the areas people have mentioned above. More urbanisation and population growth along the LR routes so more workers to/from CBD given the amount of new glass towers being built, as well as moving workers to other areas across Auckland, lots more workers needed at the airport given the passenger growth plans from current 19m to 40m passengers, moving the passengers themselves around Auckland and out of Auckland after short stays to explore the rest of the country. See previous post:
    https://www.greaterauckland.org.nz/2017/07/27/airport-future-auckland-airport/

    I read many growth plans and predictions for Auckland. Has anyone taken all these plans and holistically looked at what is really needed from a practical sense to move all these people? Is LR v HR v bus the right discussion? Should all be considered in an integrated way for the future generations of Aucklanders and tourists wanting a first class experience of your beautiful country?

    1. We are lacking leadership in decisions about how to use our land and transport to best effect. Transit oriented development is stymied by park and rides, focus on intensification is watered down by lack of incentives – greenfields land is always made available so most developers haven’t had to change their stripes.

      The land-use and transport modelling currently done in New Zealand may be ok on its own, as a way of visualising what will happen under current policy, but it is being applied incorrectly. It is used to produce the business cases for proposed transport projects. The models are inappropriate for this, because the business cases compare doing the project with not doing it, and that’s what the models are particularly poor at. They set the change in land use and in numbers of “person-trips” as a result of the new project at zero. For roads, this skews the business case towards doing the project (through producing too-low travel times for the project, and too-high travel times for the scenario where the project is not done). For public transport, I don’t know as much about it, but I think it skews the business case away from doing the project (through not fully recognising the increase in passenger numbers and therefore the benefit of doing the project).

      Luckily our new government seems to understand this. The process for deciding on projects has been modified to reduce the importance of the business cases, but I haven’t seen whether they have managed to change the calculation of the business cases themselves.

  20. Reading most of the points raised, whilst HR from Puhinui to Airport has merit and I like the concept but it will not address the problems with population growth in Mangere and the airport precedent.

    To me as a PT user, LR from City to Airport via Mangere is better option as it will be part of a 3 or possibility 4 route LR network but I do have questions about Dominion Road capacity to support both LR, bus and general vehicle traffic in some places where the road is narrow,

    I do believe a dedicated bus way is the cheaper option between Botany Downs and Airport and the money used for HR between Puhinui to Airport can be used to the double track and upgrade the Auckland/Hamilton rail corridor for frequent regional services between Auckland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions.

    From a tourist or visitor point of view, Skybus has the market for visitors/tourists traveling between the airport and the city. Whilst LR is can capture some of that market for those tourists/visitors who want to use it, it shouldn’t be part of the case main reason for HR spur. As a visitor I wouldn’t use a LR service between Airport and city, I would use Skybus.

    I like InterCity concept with their 30 minute Airport to City non-stop express service via the Waterview Tunnel with fares from $10.00 per person each way.

      1. Whilst I am aware there will be no buses once the LR starts on Dom Rd and will have its on right of way, but I do question about general traffic knowing how obsessed Aucklander’s are with its cars.

          1. Patrick R – Knowing human nature, people with a car will still use Dom Rd regardless of the Waterview tunnel. In theory is should be less congestion but in reality there will the same or possibility more congestion that is currently experienced.

          2. Traffic evaporation is a real, measured phenomenon. Here, it is a situation where the capacity will be reduced while the PT people-flow will be increased and improved. What needs to be done, to circumvent Google’s instructions to use the rat runs nearby, is block the roads so they all become dead ends, with active modes still allowed through for good permeability. And if anyone tries to traffic calm to prevent the ratrunning, using measures other than blocking, they will be wasting money.

      2. I bet there won’t be any reduction in general traffic, there will be reduced buses but you can’t make assumptions that those using cars will transfer to the tram.

        1. You can make that assumption, based on extensive research on the subject, if there is a reduction in car lanes and if there is reduced priority at traffic lights.

    1. As a visitor, I would prefer to take transport which allows me to get my bearings in the city. Like those half-day bus tours people take as an initial way to see the city before then going back to what interests them. I wouldn’t be looking for a service that keeps me in the “international travelling” mode but in the “engaging with the local culture” mode, seeing streetscapes upfront and watching people hop on and off. Using a service that is part of the network I’ll be using over the next few days would feel like making progress towards knowing how to get around.

      1. You don’t travel a lot do you. It’s a long flight to NZ from most places, as a traveller myself I generally want to get to my hotel ASAP and sleep after a long haul, especially when I travel with my kids.

        I’m a big fan of hope on hop off tour buses, we did one in Dublin last week, London last year and Edinburgh the year before. They give you a much better overview of the city than a tram ride through the burbs.

        1. Master Chief – I agree with you. I want to get to my accommodation as quickly as possible to freshen up. I particularly do not want to spend 40 odd minutes to get there at the same time struggling with luggage. That is why I don’t use Skybus hence my preference with a taxi or InterCity if passing through Auckland.

          1. How frequent is Intercity? I can’t find a timetable but I assume they don’t pass through every 15 mins. I don’t think waiting an hour for a fast bus, is really the best way to get to the hotel to freshen up.

        2. Most travelers do. However Airport to CBD via Puhinui will still be around 40 mins so it’s hard to see the benefit when Skybus matches this most of the day.

          Unless of course you are assuming they are going to magic up some express tracks to allow this service to travel quicker.

  21. What Matt L needs is another posting and run a voting POLL to find out how many readers prefer either LR or HR or both HR/LR to the Airport and have it so that you can only VOTE once , and make it open to everybody the either reads or writes to GA . Then make another posting to show which is the most popular

    1. A faux consultation would be an interesting idea.

      You’d make a Google form and require an email (same as with posting comments here) and then you’d have a poll question as well as some short answer type things so people could explain why they believe what they do.

      You could even make it quite long but with non-compulsory sections so people without too much time could click through it.

      At the end of the day, GA would have some material for another post (“The Readers’ View” or something) but, more importantly, would have better information about the audience and hence how to pitch their arguments. I mean, it was a good idea to point out the (est.) wider network times but it was unfortunate that specific angle was wholly ignored by the HR crowd.

  22. Now why does Patrick Reynolds and the other admins of this website keep making articles on the same topic over and over again?

    1. They have an agenda and want to push it is the reason, then they bag anyone or any organisation that has a counter point of view.

      1. What, pray tell, is the difference between GA’s “agenda” and Daniel Eyre’s (and presumably your own) “point of view”?

      2. Clearly. As there is not a single blog post that criticises the light rail nor puts forward the case for other extending the Onehunga line or Branching from Puhinui.

        Not very credible…

        1. Why would we write a blog post promoting a poorer idea?

          However we have written a great deal about all the various options. If you really want you can track the various writers change in view over time. We never delete posts, it’s all there.

          I certainly began thinking the obvious solution of extending the Onehunga Line was the best solution, then supported a branch from Just south of Otahuhu (primarily to pick up both eastern and western line users).

          But as my understanding of the high costs and low benefits of simply focusing on the airport instead of the whole network and city grew my position changed.

          Having done as much work as we have on understanding the whole city and on how transit networks function we are confident we the best balanced solution for this poorly served part of the city now underway.

          And the great news is it’s also government and council policy.

          1. Hi Patrick, I just wanted to say I appreciate the work and advocacy you and the others have put in. I’m also a supporter of LR, but I also believe the Onehunga spur currently provides a very sub-optimal service.

            So, honest question for you Patrick; What should we do with the Onehunga spur?

          2. Well it’s tricky, I am not a fan of CRL’s current plan to run infrequent 3-car O-line trains direct to Henderson (3tph). But it’s also clear we cannot afford to waste a CRL slot on 3-car trains, nor justify the high cost of grade separating and double tracking the line either for such a small catchment…. so maybe it should become part of a cross town service? Matt has written about possibility. Until then it’s sweet little addition to the current system and one of good things Lee achieved.

          3. Thanks for that. 3TPH will be an improvement on 2TPH, but I agree that we should look to extend it – if not to the airport, then crosstown would also be a good outcome.

            I know the costs are high, but this may be the last time in a generation we can lock in some longterm thinking, and avoid succumbing to the same economic fatalism that killed Roby’s Rail and necessitated the bridge clip-ons so after its completion.

            If that means LR to the airport, I’m happy with that. I just think the status quo on the Onehunga spur is untenable.

          4. Maybe the O line improvement to the Onehunga branch is the first planned stage in going beyond Onehunga, over the bridge to SW and an O line loop over an HR Avondale-Southdown
            Or perhaps a long loop West to East onwards from Southdown over eastern NIMT.

          5. ‘A poorer idea’
            Now I see why GA is against the O line, its because the O line will include the double tracking of the Onehunga branch and then removes that cost from the criteria used in the Jacobs report to cost HR vs LR to the airport.
            Including that double tracking cost while ignoring the LRT cost
            of the Dom Rd section was always biasing the costs of airport rail towards LR.
            So when the onehunga double tracking is completed and O line services start, will there be a re-evaluation of the costs of both schemes? (Since its unlikely Airport LRT will have started construction, but likely the Dom Rd LRT will have).
            Isn’t it strange the HR to Airport suggestions never seem to go away?

          6. Err no, the difference is the Dominion Road part of the LRT is proposed to be built and funded anyway as an independent project, but nobody has proposed or funded the double tracking of the Onehunga line as an independent project.

          7. “Isn’t it strange the HR to Airport suggestions never seem to go away?”

            No, not really.

            Those with a mode bias who refuse to accept independent analysis – never providing any of their own, of course – always prop up on these types of projects.

            Time and again people point to the analysis why HR can’t work. Its just practically ignored each time. Or conspiracy theories are introduced.

          8. Klk, independant analysis? You are jesting aren’t you, unless you are one of the gullible sucked into the perverse Jacob’s logic.
            If that is the prop for your arrogant comment then its likely nothing can remove you from your mode bias.
            Yes bias works both ways, clearly you are a righfighter for LRT

          9. Bogle – GA actively promote double tracking of the O line in their CFN2 proposal, not sure where you get the idea they are against it.

          10. Jezza, sorry I must have this wrong then. Even so it changes the Jacobs report costing if the double tracking to Onehunga is removed as an HR cost, or do I have that wrong to?
            All argument aside I just wish this govt would get the Dom Rd LRT physical construction started before 2020, even if it is some advanced works like the tunnel or trench at Queen K Rd junction

          11. Bogle,

            Correct me if I am wrong, but Kiwirail, MoT, AC, AT, industry professionals from NZ and overseas and others have all analysed it and came to the same result.

            You continue to insult the analysis as part of some baseless conspiracy theory but provide none to contradict it.

            For the record, I began with a prefrence for an HR link from Onehunga and then when that was not feasible, off the southern line. I then read the analysis and like others here, have come to a different position. I have never had a mode bias with this project.

            By all means be very disappointed with the outcome, but please do better than conspiracy theories and insults to independent parties who did the analysis you and others won’t.

          12. Double tracking of the O line is not funded, but is required if HR from Onehunga is to be consideed. It cannot be excluded simply to make HR stack up less worse than it currently does.

            And even if it was, I doubt its enough given that south of Onehunga, its still more expensive than LRT and has less catchment due to less stations possible.

          13. There you go again KLK, can’t you allow others to have a different opinion concerning airport rail? I also read the Jacob’s report and was far from convinced that it was a fair and unbiased report. Others here have also expressed concern that costings used were clearly biased toward an LRT solution.
            I know it must be galling for you that not everyone shares you views, same for GA as their posts on LRT do not always get universal support. That’s life. Stay calm and carry on.

          14. “Why would we write a blog post promoting a poorer idea?”

            That’s merely your biased opinion. The fact you’re even openly taking sides makes a complete mockery of this entire blog.

            “But as my understanding of the high costs and low benefits of simply focusing on the airport instead of the whole network and city grew my position changed.”

            Whereas I found the arguments against the heavy rail extension and for the light rail totally flawed and unconvincing.

            What’s the most hilarious here is how you really don’t see the danger of putting yourself in an air-bubble of agreeing opinions. I hope you’ve prepared yourself for the shock of things not turning out how you planned.

            Maybe you’re just not much of a critical thinker?

            If you’re so certain that you’re correct; then what are you afraid of n allowing the differing views and opinions? If the opposing arguments are so wrong then why not allow them to be aired and watch them fall?

            Or is this confidence merely a facade?

          15. Returning back here every few days to throw around insults and innuendo, just because someone applied their thinking and has a different opinion to you, doesn’t do much for your argument.

          16. “If you’re so certain that you’re correct; then what are you afraid of n allowing the differing views and opinions? If the opposing arguments are so wrong then why not allow them to be aired and watch them fall?”

            Who is blocking opposing opinions? You have posted endlessly on the topic.

            If your are so certain you are correct, write a post with all of your detailed analysis and then wait for the feedback. Don’t ask Patrick to write it for you.

          17. @KLK *Ahem*:
            “Why would we write a blog post promoting a poorer idea?”’

            Not self-aware of your double standards, are you?

            Basically your position is:
            “The opinion I favour is correct. We can’t possibly allow anyone to express the different opinion. Anyone who does is not worthy of respect and civility. And if they reciprocate this I can use whatever hyperbole of “insult” which pleases me.”

            Please, do keep advising me of how my conduct “doesn’t do much for my argument”…

            “You have posted endlessly on the topic.”

            What are you talking about? Actually I’ve only pointed this out here and now.
            What is “endless” here is articles repeating the same word salad in favour of the LRT scheme.

            “If your are so certain you are correct, write a post with all of your detailed analysis and then wait for the feedback. Don’t ask Patrick to write it for you.”

            Did miss where Patrick Reynolds just poured water on any possibility of that? It’s at the top of this comment thread.

          18. There have been at least 5 other posts reviewing the options for the airport in their entirety, which you can care to read. Through that, Patrick and others have come to their conclusion (not initially) that in their opinion, LRT is the best. Its just an opinion.

            Why would they then continue to write even more posts (at your request) on a subject they believe, after their analysis, is inferior?

            If you think they are wrong and HR best, that’s perfectly fine. Write a post about why. But don’t claim your opinion is being blocked. If it was, you would have been denied posting access about 200 comments ago.

            And if you don’t think your attacks on the blog and its posters are not insults, I can’t help you.

          19. “There have been at least 5 other posts reviewing the options for the airport in their entirety, which you can care to read.”

            I’ve gone back 6 months an all I see are articles that keep promoting this one option (usually the same old rubbish and in reaction to something in the media about the general public opposing it).

            “Patrick and others have come to their conclusion (not initially) that in their opinion, LRT is the best. Its just an opinion.”

            But if it’s “just an opinion” then why is he not appropriately keeping it merely his opinion instead of enforcing it upon this entire blog and refusing any discussion of the opposing opinions?

            “Why would they then continue to write even more posts (at your request) on a subject they believe, after their analysis, is inferior?”

            Because… …*drumroll*… …they might just learn something they’d previously not considered?
            Why do they keep posting these articles promoting the one side of the debate?

            And no I’m not requesting anything. I’m just laughing at this.

            “Write a post about why.”

            Patrick has said he won’t allow that. This is the second time I’m telling you that. Even though it really didn’t need to be told the first time.

            “And if you don’t think your attacks on the blog and its posters are not insults, I can’t help you.”

            Your lack of self-awareness and irony is also amusing….

          20. “I’ve gone back 6 months an all I see are articles that keep promoting this one option (usually the same old rubbish and in reaction to something in the media about the general public opposing it).”

            Go back 6 days. The post on airport connections has several links to the analysis. One will even direct you back to a post Patrick did in 2015 where he actually starts with a preference for an Onehunga link.

            If you still think the logic or analysis is flawed, I look forward to your guest post critiquing it with evidence. I mean that because if it is flawed, I am happy to change my mind. I have no mode bias.

            If your request for a guest post is being denied, let me know – I am happy to support you in getting one up to be read.

          21. P.S.

            “Why would we write a blog post promoting a poorer idea?”’

            This means those who have already provided a post on it need not do any further. Its up to those dissenting (such as yourself) to provide a rebuttal via a guest post. I doubt that would be denied.

          22. No.

            I go back 6 days and I see another article pretty similar to this one where they merely champion the LRT option.

            And this happens every time there’s something int he media opposing the LRT option. It’s all very reactionary, as though it’s damage control mode.

            “This means those who have already provided a post on it need not do any further.Its up to those dissenting (such as yourself) to provide a rebuttal via a guest post. I doubt that would be denied.”

            You’ve just contradicted yourself and you still don’t seem to realise what Patrick has declared.

    1. I’d be fine with that. As an Onehunga resident, I think that would be a better use of the corridor than the current limited frequency HR service – which is often cancelled to relieve pressure on the network, even if a fault or incident has occurred on a seperate line.

      There’s an apartment boom happening in Onehunga, as well as thriving industrial and commercial precincts, so higher frequency service will become essential – especially as many bus routes were recently discontinued.

  23. Interesting outlook, however I disagree with the statement “Some people travel to and from airports quite frequently (politicians especially!) but for most people the Airport is a place they might visit once or twice a year” There are many offices/stores at the office which have employees doing a daily commute, when I was working on the airport construction site during the summer time it would take me 2 hours to drive to Howick if I left at 5pm!

    1. I think the point was, workers at the airport will, amongst others commuting on this line, greatly outnumber flyers. A point I think your view confirms?

      1. How do you get that, there’s approx 15,000 people working in the wider airport precinct, that’s approx 11m trips into an out of the area per year, that’s 8 million less than the number of passengers using the airport. Passenger numbers are increasing every year, they aren’t going down.

        1. How many of the 19m travelers actually go to the Auckland CBD direct from the airport or vice versa? Any stats on that?

          You would have to exclude (most) Aucklanders (who don’t live in the CBD) who would be the greatest source of users, those who access the airport from the south, those in transit to/from flights elsewhere (domestic or international), those hiring a car/van and driving elsewhere after/before landing, those choosing to stay outside of the CBD (which is cheaper). It would be a hefty number.

          You are left with domestic business travelers but only those who stay in the CBD (who might well take a cab and expense it, regardless) and international tourists, perhaps only on one leg of their trip.

          I reckon 11m trips from workers will easily blitz how many travelers actually require an airport-CBD end-to-end service each year. And that’s before you talk about the biggest number of users of this line – those living on the Isthmus getting on/off somewhere between the Airport and Onehunga.

          1. 19m passengers equals 52,000 passengers per day travelling to and from Auckland International. of those 19m there are 7,2m foreign arrivals and departures to AKL per year, those are people who don’t live in NZ, I’d bet the vast majority of them head to a hotel in the CBD, that’s nearly 20,000 foreigners per day, most of them probably staying in a CBD hotel.

            Even if half of them take the tram that’s a hell of a lot of the trams capacity in foreign travellers with luggage, when you add in local airport users using the tram plus the 15,000 people who work in the airport precinct, sorry with those numbers the tram just doesn’t stack up as a viable airport transport node.

          2. You’ve made a few errors in your maths.

            A lot of passengers at Auckland are transfers. Every person that transfers is two passengers who never leave or arrive at Auckland airport using the surface transport network. Lets say that 2m people transfer. That is 15m passengers using surface transport. 7.5m arrivals and 7.5m departures. That works out to 20,500 journeys each way to the airport each day, not 52,000. Assuming that your ratio of foreign arrivals/departures to the total is correct, that is 7,800 people each way each day.

            That works out to about 45 minutes worth of capacity for 12 LRVs per hour each to Puhinui and to the City Centre.

      1. It’s of all Airport & Surrounds “customers” – from the Auckland Airport Access Programme Business Case Summary 20 June 2017. so I guess done questionnaire on individual people around the area or something.

        1. Would be good to know. It they were interviewing people on the footpath they’re unlikely to get accurate employee numbers, who would be spending much less time milling around, or taking inefficient paths to get places, etc.

          1. Yes be good to know the details, it’s pretty vague. Capturing people as they arrived at entrances at the airport itself could work but not sure how you could do that for the surrounding areas, perhaps it was done with vehicles entering from either SH20A or B.

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