There hasn’t been much news on the Auckland light-rail projects for a while now, with the project seemingly stuck in some sort of purgatory as the Government (hopefully) slowly comes to the realisation that the NZ Super Fund proposal to build an elevated and tunnelled route is complete madness. With the Puhinui station upgrade and improved bus priority about to start construction, it will hopefully get people to understand that a high quality PT option will be delivered in the next few years. Although some will refuse to to believe that a Puhinui-Airport rail link would be much harder and more expensive than it intuitively seems.

As I discussed late last year, one of the frustrating things about the idea of serving the Airport with heavy rail is that it places what I think is undue importance on this particular job – getting people from the city centre to and from the Airport. It’s a useful reminder that only around 4% of trips on the City Centre to Mangere corridor are these ‘end to end’ journeys.

While the Airport is an important part of Auckland, it seems strange that such huge emphasis get placed on trips between the city centre and the Airport, a pretty small minority of overall journeys. Also, very little discussion ever occurs about the people who travel to and from the airport every day.

Alon Levy’s excellent Pedestrian Observations blog looked at this issue of over-emphasising Airport connections a few years back and came up with some interesting hypotheses to explain this.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that cities spend far more per rider on airport connectors than on other kinds of public transit. On this blog, see many posts from previous years on the subject. My assumption, and that of such other transit advocates as Charles Komanoff, was always that it came from an elite versus people distinction: members of the global elite fly far more than anyone else, and when they visit other cities, they’re unlikely to take public transit, preferring taxis for most intermediate-length trips and walking for trips around the small downtown area around their hotels.

In this post, I would like to propose an alternative theory. Commuters who use public transit typically use their regular route on the order of 500 times a year. If they also take public transit for non-work trips around the city, the number goes even higher, perhaps 700. In contrast, people who fly only fly a handful of times per year. Frequent business travelers may fly a few tens of times per year, still an order of magnitude less than the number of trips a typical commuter takes on transit.

What this means is that 2 billion annual trips on the New York-area rail network may not involve that many more unique users than 100 million annual trips between the region’s three airports. Someone who flies a few times per year and is probably middle class but not rich might still think that transportation to the airport is too inconvenient, and demand better. In the US, nearly half the population flies in any given year, about 20% fly at least three roundtrips, and 10% fly at least five. Usually, discussions of elite versus regular people do not define the elite as the top half; even the top 10% is rare, in these times of rhetoric about the top 1% and 0.1%. When Larry Summers called for infrastructure investment into airport transit, he said it would improve social equity because what he considered the elite had private jets.

To summarise, there are two main reasons why Airport connections might end up being over-emphasised compared to other transport needs:

  • Politicians, senior bureaucrats, business leaders, media and other members of the ‘elite’ use Airports far more frequently than the average person – so therefore connections to airports are a much bigger deal for them than for most people.
  • A very wide variety of people travel to the Airport over the course of a year, compared to other key places. This means that a lot of people experience travel conditions to and from airports, even if they do so quite rarely.

What seems to be lacking in Auckland discussions is good data and useful metrics to compare different corridors against each other. Alon does this for New York, which illustrates how poor Airport connections perform compared to other projects.

None of this makes airport transit a great idea. Of course some projects are good, but the basic picture is still one in which per rider spending on airport connectors is persistently higher than on other projects, by a large factor. In New York, the JFK AirTrain cost about $2 billion in today’s money and carries 6.4 million riders a year, which would correspond to 21,000 weekday riders if it had the same annual-to-weekday passenger ratio as regular transit, 300 (it has a much higher ratio, since air travel does not dip on weekends the way commuter travel does). This is around $100,000 per rider, which contrasts with $20,000 for Second Avenue Subway Phase 1 if ridership projections hold. Earlier this year, the de Blasio administration proposed a developed-oriented waterfront light rail, projected to cost $1.7 billion and get 16 million riders a year, which corresponds to about $32,000 per daily rider; a subsequent estimate pegs it at $2.5 billion, or $47,000 per rider, still half as high as how much the AirTrain cost.

Avoiding this over-emphasis on airport connections will continue to be difficult in the absence of good data, because the allure of good airport connections is strong in both political elites who use airports extremely frequently,  as well as the broader public who use them occasionally.

Of course this isn’t to say that Auckland Airport doesn’t need rapid transit connections from both the north and the east. But rather, we shouldn’t over-emphasise the ‘end to end’ element of what the broader City Centre to Mangere light rail project does, and we certainly shouldn’t go out of our way to serve the airport with enormously expensive infrastructure – especially if that means ongoing delays to other key rapid transit corridors, especially in the northwest. Given this, it feels like Auckland is getting the balance about right.

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  1. Good post.

    I remember years ago when discussion over airport rail was first happening, the main thing people were saying was that overseas these links often failed. The key takeout always seemed to be that you needed to make sure any airport link also did “a lot of other jobs” with serving the airport being the “icing on the cake”.

    1. They only like to mention the failures not the successes, like The Heathrow Express and The Gardermoen Flytorg.

      1. I’m not sure a line that cost NZ$1b+ 20 years ago that carries less than any of Auckland main three rail lines and required the government to write off the debt could be considered a success.

      2. Gardermoen is an interesting one, with very high public transport mode share (65%+).

        However despite the new Oslo airport being designed specifically around rail access, with a central station built into the terminal that’s served by both a high speed city express train and various intercity routes… about half of those public transport users to and from the airport are on the bus…. because it’s cheaper and goes straight to where people want to go, and it runs after midnight.

        1. As someone who has used the service reapeatedly, I’ve found it cheap and quick to central Oslo.

          Those taking the bus would only be doing so if their destination is not close to the line.

          It is very popular much like Gatwick trains and unlike the Heathrow Express.

        2. I use the Gardermoen express frequently, it’s a good service, I also use the Heathrow Express, I refuse to spend 1hr plus on the Piccadilly Line.

        3. 1 hour on the Piccadilly line would get you to Cockfosters. If you’re going that far, catching the Heathrow express won’t help.

          Also, you’re in the minority if you are choosing the Heathrow express.

        4. I use Heathrow Connect, a lot cheaper than the Express and a lot more comfortable than the tube.

          I would probably use the Express if I was travelling for business though.

          However, it is largely irrelevant what you or I do, it is whether that sort of service is viable at an airport with 1/4 of the passenger volumes of Heathrow.

      3. If Heathrow express is what success looks like, I’d rather fail. Infrequent, expensive, and poorly used.

        1. Heathrow Express was supposed to be a very different (premium) product with bag check in at Paddington (and St Pancras for Eurostar). 9/11 put an end to that, the St Pancras connection never got built. And don’t forget there was already a metro connection into the airport.

          What we’re starting to see is the transition away from it being a premium product to just another metro service as the 25-year concession comes to an end. The local Heathrow Connect services are pretty well loaded, and will shortly be replaced by the Crossrail/Elizabeth Line services. There’s the prospect of a west-facing connection with at least Crossrail services to Slough and Reading, and from 2026, it will be just a few stops from the Old Oak Common mega-exchange, between Great Western mainline, the new North-South high-speed rail, Crossrail and Overground services.

          There are a number of lessons to draw from this, not least that you still need bus and stopping services. But in the end it’s better to build it earlier and grow with the infrastructure rather than wasting years waiting for the right time.

        2. The most important lesson is that airport expresses are a waste of money and we should basically never build them. Any line that includes the airport needs to be regionally valuable beyond ‘just serving the airport’.

        3. I don’t know why we are even discussing them. It’s not what is proposed as an alternative to the LR commuter line through the Isthmus. That comparison is a HR or BRT commuter line through the isthmus.

          It’s not even related.

  2. I cannot help but think a base model transit route from Puhinui to the airport, as slow as a wet week it will be, is just do-able and therefore symbolic, long term issues that are building with bus companies and driver recruitment/retention notwithstanding. And as you say politicians using the airport is something they can relate to.

    But doing something really useful such as providing West Auckland, for example, with some form of useable quick public transport for the people is just too damned hard, requires effort, leadership and some form of very basic care factor. All of which is beyond our city leaders, the local MP and the government.

    1. So after decades of nothing and indeed, strident opposition, you expect the current city leaders, the local MP and the government to wave a magic wand and the “some form of useable quick PT” will appear next week?

      1. No, sadly and realistically I do not expect the current usual suspects to do anything but talk and as is with light rail, stop the talking and hide.

        But someone with drive and passion and who has their hands on the levers of power could and would. And some of these pretenders are up for re-election this year and the next, so show us all what you have achieved. Cos if all it is is hot air, then its time to go looking for a real job!

        There are many examples of when something has to happen, the government both central and local can pull their fingers out and get on with it. Pity they can’t see that this is one of those somethings.

    1. He hasn’t, Ben. He’s talking about how we need to design for them, and not concentrate on the much smaller number of city centre to airport trips.

  3. Building a new light rail system just to replace buses seems like one of the dumbest ideas I have seen and I have seen a lot of daft ideas. Shit I have even thought up a bunch of daft ideas myself so I know what I am talking about.

    Best thing we can do is build light rail to Westgate with the Queen Street line to act as a central city distributor. Build Dominion Road later if the bus bullshit ever actually looks like being a thing.

    1. I think people keep forgetting that both Private, Kiwibuild and HNZ are planning on building 1000’s upon 1000’s of homes in Mt Roskill and Mangere, both served by the proposed line. I get that the North West need LR asap, but everyone is acting as if there is no development going on along the Isthmus line when there is absolutely loads planned.

      Both are needed desperately, it’s just that the Nor West gets more focus on this blog because more people seem to have chosen to live there and as usual when someone wants a pet project of theirs to happen they usually shout down others thinking there is only 1 choice.

      1. I think people are forgetting that the old Isthmus District Plan also allowed for 1000’s upon 1000’s of additional houses as well, but most of that potential wasn’t taken up by the market.
        Fact remains that AT wants to spend a fortune to shift existing PT users out of a bus and into a tram rather than spend money shifting people out of cars and into trams. To do it they might even give Dominion road to some Canadians to own.

        1. Miffy, you’re obsession on one, perhaps minor, benefit while ignoring the whole outcomes.

          Dominion Road is less than 1/3rd of the route. Indeed taking the busiest surface bus route out of the congested bus corridors to allow other bus routes more space is a great outcome, but it’s not the only outcome.

        2. The scam is to justify Dominion Road on the basis of ManBearPig or Bussnake or Omnibusageddon or similar nonsense, then claim Dominion Rd and Queen Street as a sunk cost so they only have to include marginal costs for the really expensive but really useless part from Mt Roskill to Onehunga.
          If the Dominion Rd block falls all the other blocks fall too. Oh and connections to the airport are somehow simultaneously a very important part of the scheme, or, not very valuable depending on how the audience of the day might feel about it and what contra evidence they may possess.

        3. Yep cool, no public transport problems in Auckland today, no congestion, no population growth, no development ongoing and planned.

          All just a big scam to something something something because reasons.

        4. “Fact remains that AT wants to spend a fortune to shift existing PT users out of a bus and into a tram”

          Incorrect. ATs mandate is to encourage “mode shift”. ie to reduce the number of single occupancy cars that are choking Auckland, and move those drivers into any form of PT, or “active mode” ( ie, walk, bike, scooter or swim )

      2. Good point Joe, intense housing projects are underway in the areas you name but the complimenting PT services for that soon to be vastly increased population are a figment of the councils/governments/ministers imagination.

        Why is it transport is NEVER factored in?

      3. Yes HNZ are spending some $750m to turn 7000 old damp homes into 25,000 new warm dry ones on the same land in these suburbs. This is underway right now… if we want this tripling of the population to all be trying to drive then let’s not build the LR line…

        Taking bus routes that are growing into inefficient overuse and turning into them Light Rail is exactly what cities do the world over…

      4. Have to disagree, I think CC2M gets more focus than the CC2NW on this blog. Both lines are needed but one needs to come first. In my opinion it should be the NW as I think that is the more easily consented one (although not without difficulties) and AT has purchased the necessary station land at Lincoln and Te Atatu. And yes, there’s more house going in the Isthmus but there’s also more houses going in along the NW line.

        1. My view is a little different. Yes there are more houses going in along the NW line, but that will be across decades and hasn’t really started.

          The Mangere-isthmus corridor is already full of housing, and dense housing at that. It’s also got a bunch of employment centres, etc.

          I say focus on the neighbourhoods that exist first!

        2. Yeah, but at least the Isthmus has good PT services now (albeit oversubscribed on Dom Road). The NW has poor PT services. I just don’t think the incremental PT uptake from turning buses into light rail on the Isthmus will be as great as the step change on the NW. Remember there are existing houses and catchments on the NW too…its not all about the new suburbs of Kumeu, Westgate etc on that line. And like I said, sometimes you just have to go with something that you can do now…we’ll be waiting for ages to get CC2M cranking IMO.

        3. The first operational section will need to be connected to a servicing depot. The location of this, Mt Roskill? or somewhere, out west, will dictate the location of the first operational section. The Newton to Britomart section will be required to be operational before any part of the second line can be commissioned to allow the consists to transfer between lines for servicing. Given these constraints, what are the construction staging and commissioning sequencing options? Thoughts please.

    2. The least dumb reason you’d build light rail is to meet proven demand by leveling up from a heavily-used, over-capacity bus corridor and easing capacity constraints on that corridor. Dominion Rd is over capacity. Symonds St is over capacity.
      This is PT 101.

      1. No it is closer to PT-109 in that it is probably a waste of time and money but makes for a great story and the man in charge will leverage it to get himself an even better job later.

      2. Remember miffy didn’t do PT 101, but he did do Traffic Engineering 101, otherwise known as true religion; repeating over and over until it enters the cellular level of the baby engineer: steel wheels bad; rubber wheels good.

      3. I do tend to agree with miffy a little here. Is Dominion road really over capacity at a bus per 3 minutes or whatever it is? Maybe Symonds street is, but why not use Ian McKinnan / Queen Street for buses as well?
        In saying that I do think Mt Roskill / Mangere / Airport is a better route in terms of walking catchment, potential development and of course the bonus of providing an airport link.

        1. It’s not that Dominion Road is overcapacity, it’s that the city bus corridors and terminals are overcapacity… and Dominion Road is the biggest single opportunity to remove buses from the city outside the northern busway.

          You could put buses onto Queen Street, but you’d have nowhere to turn them around or layover at the bottom of the hill as the britomart area is already full, so you are back to robbing Peter to pay Paul. LRT can layover and turn around in place, being double ended and using a lesser frequency of much larger vehicles.

          But fix that, given the physical constraints of Queen St and other land use demands, you’d get about half the system capacity out of the corridor with buses as LRT. So you’re fine for a while but back to square one again within a relatively short timeframe. Miffy is right, Queen ST LRT sets up for Dominion Rd, then the Mangere extension, then the northwest and the north shore. Queen St bus would be lucky to accomodate Dominion Road alone.

        2. Dominion Road / Symonds Street / Queen Street are nearly at capacity already and there are significant issues with bus reliability on those routes as it is (even off peak). It will only get worse. The reasons for light rail seem very obvious. It is disappointing that the Puhinui Spur brigade seem incapable of engaging with the issue or acknowledging that it may not actually be as simple as they propose. Light Rail benefits significantly more people, which seems the rather obvious benefit.

  4. Airport rail can be viewed perhaps as a loss-leader (even if it doesn’t lose money as such. A loss-leader is of course a method used by businesses to attract customers in with an amazing deal in the hope they buy other things at the same time).

    Tourists and other middle class passengers (that otherwise haven’t used PT) might use other PT around Auckland if they get a taste of it from Airport Rail. Then there are the airport workers who would be using it like commuters as would the workers in the buildings adjacent to the airport.

    As someone who goes to the airport a whole lot more than most I find the 4% figure to seem woefully undercooked. How much traffic leaves the motorway at Favona, Mangere, or Kirkbride rather than continuing on to the airport? I’d estimate maybe 3 in 10 total. Yes there are some other local connections but they don’t carry the same volume. People often underestimate how big the airport is. Your 4% figure is missing a 0…40% sounds more like it (remember too you have buses, shuttles, HOV and typically not SOV heading to the airport).

    1. You’ve completely misinterpreted the comment AKLDUDE. It says “It’s a useful reminder that only around 4% of trips on the City Centre to Mangere corridor are these ‘end to end’ journeys.”

      First of all it’s not even talking about traffic, secondly it’s talking about the whole corridor.

      I.e. With the airport to city line built with it’s 15-odd stations, only 4% of the patronage on the line will be between the city stations and the airport or vice versa.

      In other words, 96% of the usage of the line is people going from the intermediate suburbs to the city, from the suburbs to the airport, from mangere to the airport, from mangere to Onehunga, from onehunga to the city, etc etc.

      1. I.e., only 4% of users would benefit from the primary benefit espoused by proponents of HR to the airport, which is to save a paltry couple minutes to get there from the city. The other 96% would be stuffed because HR wouldn’t serve them at all.

        1. But the loss-leader point is rational. There is a lot of emotional attachment to an airport link in your city and a good experience on what is for most people a stressful trip can open eyes to how nice it would be to travel on PT all the time. This is often talked about on this blog WRT getting special event transport right. However, an LRT from the airport is itself a high-quality trip that would do that for most people. Anecdotal comparison from places I’ve lived: the proverbial everyone in NYC hates the AirTrain to JFK, but everyone in Portland loves the LRT to the airport.

        2. Why is the loss leader point rational? Those arriving from off shore typically have an amount of discretionary income and their choice is an expensive taxi, uber or a moderately priced tram. An even more important point is that Auckland is struggling to provide PT options because we can’t afford it, so why would we want to subsidise visitors? We already subsidise their use of our roads.
          We could encourage them to use PT by having a 3 day pass such as Prague/Vienna/Salzberg as examples off the top of my head.
          We could make the taxi pick up more expensive such as Queenstown. We could have a tax on fossil fuelled rentals cars.
          There are all sorts of ways that we could encourage tourists to use PT, but asking the rate payer to subsidise them is not the best one.
          If you are looking for really cheap airport transport then try the local bus from Ezeiza – less than $1 from memory. Dirt cheap, but I think that you would struggle to find many tourists that like it.

        3. Sorry, John, I wasn’t very clear in that comment. I’m not talking about subsidising business travelers or others with tons of discretionary income. To provide a service attractive to those people versus taxi would be outrageously expensive, and generally useless to others. It would be a benefit for regular people who live here and fly every once in a while to have an easy trip to the airport then deciding to try PT for their normal daily trips. But this benefit would be realised as much or possibly even more so by LRT than with a HR extension. Also, although this is a benefit, it is merely a minor benefit and would not be worth doing if it is the only benefit of the new service.

        4. Agree with Lewis here. I think it’s also one of the only redeeming features of park & rides, those that never really have used PT are more likely to drive to a P&R and catch quality transit than use a connecting bus, perhaps more on a quiet weekend when there is plenty of parks available or especially in bad/cold weather. They then may move on to doing so once comfortable with the quality leg alone. We did this often before our new bus network as the bus was so infrequent & random, especially on weekends or nights.

        5. I believe these sorts of things are studied. Anyone have any research they can bring to the discussion?

          I know that there’s a whole demographic of people who excitedly use public transport on their annual Europe trips but refuse to use it here. Not sure if extending that Europe trip with one more public transport trip after they arrive in Auckland will tip them over the line into dropping their car dependency when in Auckland. But I’d be interested in seeing the research.

          The light rail service will be hip and modern and Europe-like, and the most likely of any service to provide this sort of positive experience.

        6. Yes @Heidi, LRT will be the best for this. For tourists visiting here, or even those from out of Auckland, will get to see the city up close and better than a motorway or HR line connection too.

    2. You appear to have forgotten the other half of the equation, how many of those cars that continue past Favona and Mangere to the Airport have come from the CBD? My guess would be bugger all.

        1. That equally applies to the existing proposal, in fact it has the benefit of adding more connections.

  5. Interesting post, thanks.

    With the cost per ride being so much higher, people wanting to prioritise a city centre to airport link are asking for everyone to pay much more money to give airport passengers a more direct and intuitive ride than we pay for other routes, and effectively subsidise people who fly. That is to say, to further subsidise the people already using inequitable and unsustainable amounts of carbon. Bugger that.

    Any trip that you only take once or twice a year will involve more wayfinding issues than a trip you make every day. People who really use public transport for everyone face these sorts of once-in-a-while journeys frequently, which people just use public transport for their commute don’t experience.

    Including quality, transfers and wayfinding across the network is far more important than simplifying the airport to city centre trip.

    1. Correcting two typos:

      People who really use public transport for *everything* face these sorts of once-in-a-while journeys frequently, which people *who* just use public transport for their commute don’t experience.

  6. I disagree almost entirely with this post. “Airport connections are over-rated”. No they’re not. And “global elite” are important in Auckland – again, no they’re not.

    We have an un-elitist country. We have, basically, two airlines nationally, and no first class / cattle class divide – heck, even the Governor General takes a regular Air NZ flight on the same seats as the rest of us. Auckland / Wellington / Christchurch – all of us domestic fliers need a decent means of transport when we fly into each city. Its not a ridiculous thing to want a decent public transport system to / from the airport – we want one in Wellington, and we are happy you are going to install one in Auckland.

    Apart from the GG, who probably will get a chauffeur-driven car at either end, the rest of us on the plane just want a system to get into town that is fast and safe and comfortable and not too expensive. Some people get picked up / dropped off by friends – most of us have to catch a cab, as the bus service is neither fast, nor comfortable, and cheap is a relative word. Build a decent service, kill off the ridiculous taxi / uber service that besmirches AKL, and get a decent PT service that doesn’t cost the earth.

    1. ‘into town that is fast and safe and comfortable and not too expensive.’

      What you are describing will be very expensive to build, yet you want it to be cheap for yourself. I don’t see why those who don’t fly regularly should be subsidising those that do.

      1. Light rail will be a system to get into town that is fast and safe and comfortable and not too expensive. The reason it won’t be too expensive is because it will service many non-airport passengers as well.
        The heavy rail express option is as stupid as building the south western motorway and waterview tunnel with no on or off ramps between airport and city. Sure it would be quick without all those non airport passengers clogging the thing up, but it would be a massive waste of money / land / oppertunity…

    2. Compared to most similar international countries… in size and levels of social development (but also Australia)… NZers not only willing to tolerate more inequality but want it more and care much less about it than they once did.

      This is an elitist country.

      However, you’ve wildly misunderstood the point being made. Plenty of people don’t have passports. At school I knew people who’d never been overseas and we always drove on internal holidays ourselves. The use of airports make people into elites, in the sense they’re users of niche, luxury products.

    3. This is a country where you get conversations that go like this, literally:

      — “If we don’t start building houses so many people will end up living in garages and cars, and on the street.”
      — “Oh, boo hoo.”

      You could say that is only isolated incidents, but the proof is in the actions. We’d still rather have an open air museum than actually build enough houses.

      Un-elitist? Don’t think so.

    4. “Its not a ridiculous thing to want a decent public transport system to / from the airport”

      Auckland already has this. Its the 24/7 SkyBus service, from the Airport to the CBD and to the North Shore, plus the 380 Airport bus that takes you to Papatoetoe, Mangere, plus Manukau Bus & Train Stations, where you can connect to intercity buses, trains and auckland buses.

  7. Are you not describing exactly what will happen regardless of what the wheels of the vehicle are made of?

    With a city to airport line that connects to the city at the CRL, everyone on the heavy rail network is one change away from the airport via the city.

    With rapid transit on Puhinui Road, everyone on the southern rail lines is one transfer away from the airport via Puhinui station.

    Remind me how this is different with one flavour of railway or rapid transit over another?

        1. I do note the SkyBus is at least quite cheap for workers if they get a special pass. $45.00 Multi-Ride 10 Trip last I looked for the city one, and $75.00 Multi-Ride 10 Trip for the North Harbour service (Albany Westfields).

        2. And I note that Journey Planner used to allow searches that excluded certain operators (eg SkyBus) whereas it now doesn’t. Ages ago on Maxx you could select “cheapest option”. And Google only shows the SkyBus options.

          Information being the great leveller, and all.

        3. Transit app lets you exclude it. They call it something else though. For Google, tick prefer train in the route options may help but not if, say, leaving from top of Queen St.

        4. “Which is next to useless for airport to city travel”

          INCORRECT. Take the 380 Bus to either Papatoetoe Station or to Manukau Station, then transfer to the train. Cost is approx $5.00 with your HOP Card. Simple

  8. The delay in NZTA releasing the business case for Light Rail is down to delay in another report from Treasury/MOT on the funding and constructibility of the project. Cabinet requested this last year and it was due by end of March but there was a 2 month delay. My understanding that this is really about how to set up a PPP scheme for this multi-billion dollars project. My informants have recently passed on that cabinet has at long last received the report but as it raised more questions than it answered, it has been referred back to officials for more work with the Super Fund on how such a beast would actually work. The word is that a further 3 months delay is to be expected so expect nothing before September – and as the Local Body election voting is in late September early October it may be even later. This is all very frustrating, but this is a major decision and it needs to be fully thought through before committing to a decision.

    1. Thanks, Graeme. It is very frustrating. I think questions need to be asked about how a PPP offer can put the project off track so badly.

      1. The council is at its debt limit and desperate for alternative funding arrangements, the government also appears short of cash, hence they’ll hold out trying quite hard to make a PPP work.
        I think better questions can be asked around other spending and what should be prioritised.
        And why a proper carbon tax hasn’t been introduced to fund PT and other carbon reduction projects.

        1. What on earth is the regional fuel tax then? Yet to see a single thing delivered or any improvements for that largesse.

        2. I guess the Council could always sell the old Civic Administration Building and put that money into PT – oh hang on they gave it away for a kit of cold kumara. No you are right there isn’t any money so they will agree to a really crappy PPP where they give the best bit of Dominion Road to some Canadians.

      2. This PPP is an order of magnitude greater than other PPPs NZ has been involved with and I suspect it involves more novel funding methods than previously used.

        It is quite understandable that it will take some time. What it debatable is whether a PPP is a good idea.

        1. Yes. Our government can borrow money at a very low rate. Will we be told the rate that this PPP would be using? And whether this question was asked early on to decide if the concept was even worth delaying the project for?

        2. If history is anything to go by the taxpayer always takes all the risk and the “Private” bit of the partnership always comes out the winner.

          Not worth the delays and I agree Heidi, the government can raise money cheaper than anyone else and the risk remains just the same.

        3. It seems to be driven by a determination to keep debt off the government books, the last government started it with Puhoi to Workworth and Transmission Gully and this government seems determined to continue with light rail.

          Waspman – you are dead right, it will cost us more in the long run.

        4. PPPs do not keep the money out of the Government books, they just transfer the cost, plus a not insignificant private markup to a different book. The Government, on our behalf still has to pay for it, even more then if it had just incurred the debt at Sovereign rates rather the Commercial Rates. Bean counting meets politicians to remove transparency.

  9. A better way to frame this discussion: what airport public transport links (bus & rail) work well … and why?

    To start this ball rolling, in Edinburgh about twenty percent of its tram users (1.4m pax out of 7.7m pax in 2018) are going to or from the airport. A further 3m or so people use the main airport bus – a total of 4.4m passengers, for an airport handling 14m passengers a year.

    While I would not expect this sort of thing to happen in Auckland, it is possible to get a large proportion of an airport’s traffic to use public transport for its surface access – especially when large numbers of those passengers are going to or coming from the city centre (outside city centre journeys the use of public transport is quite marginal).

    1. “especially when large numbers of those passengers are going to or coming from the city centre”

      INCORRECT. Only 4% of journeys to Auckland Airport start of finish in the CBD

  10. The roads around the airport get gridlocked.
    Rail offers a more reliable connection.

    Rail also connects to the rest of the network and provides connections to/for all those along its route.

    1. Rail also by-passes the communities who currently don’t already have access to rail, or any other rapid transit for that matter. But that’s OK, because they’re in the South or the West, and poor, and therefore don’t matter.

      Am I doing this right?

    2. Rail offers a more reliable connection.
      What’s your evidence vs Light Rail or Seperated Busway to Puhinini

      Rail also connects to the rest of the network and provides connections to/for all those along its route.

      Doesn’t last weeks Signal failure issue highlight that fedding into 1 network, into 1 redundancy ISN’T reliable?

      But of course, make sweeping baseless statements 🙂

      1. “Doesn’t last weeks Signal failure issue”

        Or today’s emergency situation that has spilled trainloads of people out at The Strand and Parnell.

        A robust system has multiple modes.

    3. Rail certainly hasn’t been offering a reliable connection over the last month. I’d be interested to know more about why Southern and Eastern line trains are being impacted by track maintenance during the weekday peaks.

      My guess is something has happened that requires urgent fixing that AT and Kiwirail are being quiet about.

      1. Is the current timetable viable with all the speed restrictions? Just the area around Otahuhu must be halving the average speed over that section. Also, is the CAF dispute still a thing?

      2. Yes why has no reason been given for the speed restriction, I guess just some bad bit of track was discovered. I wonder if it’s related the 3rd main line works around Otahuhu….legal passing by workers speed or something.

        1. I wouldn’t be surprised if the more they look, the more they find. Trying to run a fairly intensive timetable on a lot of old wonky track was always going to run into problems at some stage. It’s a legacy of the decades of neglect.

  11. How does the airport and Puhinui tie in with regional rail?

    So, I’m in Huntly and want to take the train to Auckland to catch my international flight.

    Train to Papakura. Transfer to Metro service and on to Puhinui. Transfer again to bus to the airport.

    Easy? Not.

    1. I would have thought that their being only two trains a day, both in the morning peak would be the bigger issue with catching your international flight.

        1. It probably will be for the foreseeable future. I don’t think building a PT system for the one person a day in Huntly that needs to catch an international flight is the highest priority.

        2. Certainly not for one person a day in Huntly.
          However, that won’t be the only stop on the regional rail network.
          So why wouldn’t Puhinui also be the regional rail terminal.
          International and domestic passengers could use it to catch the Northern Explorer as well as a regional service.

        3. The plan is to extend the service at Puhinui once there is sufficient space to terminate it there.

    2. Traveling from Huntly to Papakura by Intercity and transfer at Papakura to the Airporter 380 bus service from Papakura to the Domestic or International Terminals. Fares from start from $16 each way. There 6 daily services from Huntly to Auckland airport and 7 daily services Saturday and Sunday.

      Alternatively, take Busit from Huntly to Hamilton Transport Centre and InterCity airport express from Hamilton to Auckland airport.


        1. So the point is that fare start from $16 plus $3.99 booking fee makes the fare $19.99 from Huntly to Auckland airport. Remember Huntly is in the Waikato region and Auckland airport is in the Auckland region so there is no NZTA funding as the journey crosses the 2 region’s boarder.

    3. Puhinui will become a Regional Rail Station. Just not immediately, KR claim there isn’t the track yet.

  12. Arrival into NZ from overseas, Auckland provides an important gateway & travelling throughout NZ for business, Auckland provides an essential air link. The current impression is good, until you try to transit to the City – at this point it is very poor by international norms. For those local to Auckland using the airport for pleasure it is less of an issue with travel by car being convenient. Setting out the characteristics required by the candidate solutions and ranking the alternatives, using benchmark international experience as a guide would give a clear indication of the best candidate solutions characteristics – open market competition to provide allowing as many degrees of freedom for innovation as possible should present an effective shortlist – once assembled an Auckland area vote might be used to identify the winner. Such an approach would place the focus where it needs to be – on the experience received by the Customer together with their lasting impression of Auckland as a base for business and private ventures – a focus on needs rather than end point possible solution technology would be helpful.

    1. Unfortunately under a vote for favourite scheme there is a total disconnect between voters and funders. In fact a total disconnect between desire and cost.

    2. “place the focus where it needs to be – on the experience received by the Customer ”

      This is one focus, as long as we understand the customer to be the residents of Auckland, present and future. And therefore, the focus needs to be on the whole network.

      The other focus is planning for environmental and social outcomes.

      1. Agreed – environment and social outcomes, along with guidelines on cost can all be provided as clear needs / drivers in the development of candidate solutions – the options available to vote on will have these factors predetermined. The voting catchment might usefully include the full range of regular Auckland Airport users – not just those living in Auckland Central.

        1. How does a vote of current residents and users cater to serve the needs of future generations?

    3. Melbourne doesn’t seem to be suffering as a place to do business compared with Sydney, in fact it is growing faster. Yet it’s airport connection is every bit as shit as ours.

      I think you are seriously overrating the importance of rail for business travellers.

      1. That is true, I rarely catch the airport train in sydney as its cheaper to get a bus to mascot/rocklea and train from there.

        1. So the train weighs a bit more, what difference does that make? Melbourne has been planning to run HR to their airport for years, I think most people there will believe it when it happens.

        2. The funding has been approved and will be part of Melbourne’s new cross city new ‘Metro’ service.

        3. Correction, the federal government approved a $5b contribution, but the remaining $7b still needs to be supplied by state government.

          I’ll believe it when I see it, at the end of the day spending $12b to replace a bus trip with a slightly slower train trip is likely to be the first project to get the chop when there isn’t an election on that needs electoral bribes.

  13. The airport to CBD transport market is actually several markets, and only some of these are best served by public transport.
    Taking CBD residents, They may, on average take say three recreational air trips from the airport a year with a partner perhaps family as well, and luggage. A $40 prebooked taxi, door to door, takes a lot of beating. And the same for their return trip.
    But for a CBD resident taking a solo private trip away by air, public transport can be attractive, for it’s price, especially on a Gold card. The same goes for CBD residents employed in the airport precinct, but for many of these PT availability over the entire 24hrs will be critical in uptake.
    A CBD resident flying from Auckland, on business, most likely takes the car or a taxi, because it is a door to door service. Company pays, and travel time, is unpaid time, so minimising this time is valued.
    For Auckland residents outside the CBD, public transport options are currently largely irrelevant , unless you live near a stop, on a decent PT route to the airport. Light rail via Dominion Road will virtually double this number of potential patrons.
    Wider network improvements in PT journey time, frequency and operating hours plus the increasing costs, and parking pressures of car alternatives will drive PT growth to the Airport precinct, as well as increased employment there and the growth in air travel.
    As a very significant portion of the funding for building, and the ongoing operation costs of all modes of airport to city transport will be bourne by Auckland residents, it is addressing their needs, including their budgetary constraints, that has to be prioritised over the requirements of air travellers from elsewhere.
    For incoming business travellers, minimising door to door time favours taxis or rentals.
    Door to door, is also favoured by most recreational travellers with luggage. Therefore taxis and shuttles. For those heading to the CBD, Skybus, can be added to the mix, and for a few intrepid travellers, the current 380 plus rail service.
    The enhanced 380 plus rail service will capture more CBD bound patrons from Skybus and shuttles mainly until the CRL is built. This will put a lot more CBD offices and residences within a walking catchment of the railway stations.
    Auckland Public Transport provision must be prioritised to meet the needs of it’s own residents going about their daily lives. We are the ones largely paying for it. There are a lot more significant unaddressed needs then those of air travellers transiting between between our airport and the CBD.

    1. The elephant in the room is of course that1/3rd of Auckland Airport’s gross profit comes from carparks and as a major shareholder we must insist on utter transparency from the Council & it’s network of CCO’s when it comes to airport transit decision making (& non-making) and the influence AIA wields.

      1. Not only car parking but rental car, and taxi access. No wonder Auckland Airport Limited were for so long at best unhelpful to public transport access, but more likely, actually obstructive with poor provision and high access charges. Their attitude only changed when after years of successfully lobbying NZTA, they obtained their wanted wider approach motorways. Then they found the major traffic jams just migrated to inside their own boundaries, and that they had built out their own ability to increase car capacity. Suddenly, they started complaining about poor PT service provision.

      2. That was correct a few years ago but things are slowly changing. The demand for land in the airport precinct is resulting in higher value activities slowly pushing out carparking. In addition to this a significant chunk of the existing parking is on land earmarked for the second runway.

        AIAL is becoming increasingly aware that the successful functioning of their airport will ultimately depend of decent PT.

        1. AIAL should be factoring that in considering the airport is 23kms from city centre. Currently the airport precinct is more care friendly not PT friendly at both terminals.

        2. By the time rail reaches the airport there will be a new single terminal, things will look very different to what they do now.

        3. By the time light rail reaches the airport it will be under water as the result of climate change and Air New Zealand will be using flying boats to get around.

        4. Fair call! We could just bring the airport back to Mechanics Bay and end the debate about how important CBD to Airport rail is once and for all.

        5. We can relay the Wynard street tram line from from Queen Street to mechanics bay and have a heavy rail station on the Eastern line. Much simpler.

    2. Auckland airport like the rest of Auckland urban and transport infrastructure has been done on short term planning and cheap quick fixes designed around the car and not PT

      1. Auckland Airport makes a big proportion of it’s income on providing facilities for cars. It was only when the provision of those services exhausted their available land, and because of their existing buildings, the provision of the required car circulating space had become prohibitive, that they became more hospitable to public transport access. The next step is to get them to make a serious contribution to the costs of providing the public transport corridors and terminals.

  14. I really do not like couching the argument in terms of is it NW or CC2M is needed. Both are. Agree travellers are only going to be a small percentage of total users but south-west Auckland needs an RTN network, the airport precinct is a very large employer and Dom Road is the of the highest PT usage route in Auckland.
    HNZ and HLC are developing a lot of land out there (Mt Roskill etc), Onehunga has large growth potential and so does Mangere. I feel that NZTA changing the name to CC2M was a brilliant thing to do because it is not really about the airport, this is the South Western RTN and it is needed just as much as the NW RTN. If we do it right from the start it will not be a white elephant…it will be another Auckland PT success story. Like Britomart, electric trains and the Northern busway. It will change the way people access Dom Road and the south-west.

  15. Airport connections may well be over-rated, but unless addressed, they will get worse. Along with the rest of Auckland in general, roads to the airport road will become progressively more congested; exacerbated by the annual accumulation of yet more and more cars, trucks and buses. Road improvements can’t keep pace. Bus priority is given at the expense of other road users. Additional buses to the airport can be a temporary solution, at best. Light rail on busy roads will just add to the problem.
    Heavy rail expansion is the most effective way to reduce congestion throughout the city. All rail stations should incorporate car parks. Buses should feed into rail corridors. New tracks need to be laid. The airport should be accessible by rail from both north and south via a CBD-Onehunga-Airport-Manukau City rail loop (not just an end-to-end line).
    Long-term planning for incremental expansion of existing rail to develop a fast, efficient, fully-electrified, passenger/freight rail network throughout the city is the future. Sure it’s expensive – but also effective.

    1. I can see how type of view seems to make sense but it is founded on a misunderstanding of how many additional branches it wise, or even practically possible, to plug into the existing mixed freight and passenger network. The CRL will only ever be two track. New branches are needed; Isthmus and Mangere, NW, North Shore, and these will require, at least, another pair of tracks through the city.

      Understanding this fact means it’s clear that interoperability with the current network is not necessary, or even desirable. This week it’s very clear how fragile interlined systems can be. So a second railway, to complement the current one, can be of any design to build a separated but aligned whole.

      There are lots of options, a new Metro like Sydney’s is one, if we are prepared to pay for CRL II, along with all the new routes… or we can take advantage of a few available surface streets mixed with off line sections, and build the whole network much cheaper and therefore quicker. And get better urban realm too.

      That’s what this is all about. Note the word ‘airport’ doesn’t appear once, but ‘network’ does. Stop thinking about only one destination, and stop think vehicle first, but network, network, network….

    2. All congestion, unless it gets addressed will get worse.
      So it is a matter of continually addressing that congestion and prioritising to get the best bang for the buck. This favours first spending on lower capital cost solutions, on the existing high patronage public transport routes, and those where there is, and predicted to be, high population and employment growth. A Puhinui to Airport frequent expedited bus service conecting to more frequent rail services heading South, North East and to the CBD acheives a lot, for a very modest spend, compared to a what a heavy rail connection to the CBD would acheive.
      On a prioritised basis such an expensive link must be well behind Rapid transport to the NW, providing more capacity then can be met by more buses to the central isthimus and upgrading both capacity and catchment of the North Shore rapid transport network. An airport heavy rail connection, good idea, eventually perhaps? But there are many more much better value transport provision spends needed first.

      1. Beyond the need to address immediate traffic congestion/bottlenecks, the future development of a fast, efficient, fully-electrified, passenger/freight rail network throughout the city will require visionary drive, long-term planning and proactive development.
        Unlike any other form of city transport, rapid heavy rail has the unique capability to substantially reduce the density of cars, trucks and buses on arterial roads between urban centers of population and heavy industry. Objectively determining where the airport ranks in terms of planning priority for rail access within an overall scheme should not be a particularly difficult exercise. However, where to find the visionary political drive needed to overrule hairbrained alternative schemes, raise the necessary capital and carry insightful planning of a city-wide rail network through to actual development is quite another issue.

        1. Networks > Network.

          Separate networks. So freight separate from Metro. Lines separated from each other as much as possible. All separate from intercity and road traffic as much as possible.

          The current AKL rail system is very far from these ideals, it is a completely mixed freight/Metro/intercity system and even then the Metro system is highly interlined. Additionally it’s not even separate from road vehicles…

          So while it usually serves all these tasks ok, that is basically cos each of them are at a very low level by pretty much any international comparison. Small quantities of freight, low intra-city ridership, and hardly any inter-city trains.

          So investment is needed to improve the current network to even meet its near term ambitions, let alone grow all three of these markets profoundly. Which we must.

          But also it’s time for a second dedicated passenger system to help grow that booming load…

        2. “rapid heavy rail has the unique capability to substantially reduce the density of cars, trucks and buses on arterial roads”

          Road reallocation from general traffic is the most effective way of doing this. All the networks providing an alternative to traffic are important. The ones we need to be progressing the most quickly are the ones that reallocate road space, as they not only improve capacity for people and goods movement, but they directly reduce the vehicle volumes. Win win.

        3. Patrick: I think I agree with most of your comments. Separating freight from metro lines would be great, but it would also involve laying a lot of new track.
          I’m not sure what you mean by “…. a second dedicated passenger system ……”. Do you mean busways?

          Heidi: By road reallocation, do you mean busways? I would suggest that this lacks capacity when compared with heavy rail.

  16. Airport rail in Wellington, if it ever happens, would potentially connect every airport-user via a one-seat ride, with all other rail-served parts of the region. That’s a pretty big catchment.

    Maybe Auckland, having a much smaller proportion of its region served by rail, and having its airport sited half-way along one of its rail routes rather than directly connectable to all of them, is just too inappropriately-configured to bother with making a go of airport rail. And having such an abysmal history of effective public transport for so many decades after the trams disappeared, perhaps Auckland is just not capable of envisaging or implementing a comprehensive rail-based PT system such as serves so many other cities so well. It would indeed be sad if the momentum that has built up through developing its rail system over the last 20 years is lost, and this excellent system serves no more of the wider region in the next 20 years than it does now.

    But this would be par for the course with Auckland. I think I hear Sir Dove Meyer Robinson turning in his grave, as yet another vision for comprehensive Auckland Rail crumbles under the weight of naysaying.

    Good luck guys.

    1. it will never happen due to the high cost and massive disruption it will cause for the Wellington city central zone and the route through the Kilbirnie area to the airport.

      1. All region train services terminate at Wellington railway station. If there was HR rail to the Wellington airport, it most likely be linked with Kapiti line as Airport to Waikanae service with transfers at Wellington railway for the Hutt, Melling, Johnsonville and Masterton train services.

      2. “Would every train line in Wellington terminate at the airport?”

        I think that the most common logic on this is that it would be the Johnsonville line – and only that – which would be extended through to the Airport. A number of reasons for this – one is that it is the shortest rail link currently, and so has scope to be extended; while another opinion is that the current Matangi trains are not right for the tight tunnels and curves of that particular piece of track, and that substituting a Light Rail system on the J’Ville track, and through to the airport, would be the best / simplest to action and would both improve the regularity on the J Ville Line as well as being best to sweep through the streets of Wellington.

        1. The Johnsonville line can handle a train every 15 mins, one would hope if they are planning on sinking a few billion into a rail line to the airport the plan would be to run trains a bit more frequently than that.

        2. Not likely mate. Every 15 minutes would be a great service, and that sort of interval is quite common around the world for Airport connections. Seeing as there J Ville line is only every half an hour at present for most of the day (15 mins at peak), even doubling it to 15 mins day-long and up till 10pm would be a great coup.

          Part of the issue is, of course, that the line is only single track going up the Gorge and so it is unlikely to ever be able to speed up at that end of the route, let alone manage the other end (to the airport) as well.

        3. I agree these frequencies will be plenty for the patronage that an airport line will generate.

          The problem is there is no way 15 min frequencies with four carriage trains would ever be able to generate the patronage that would make the business case for this line stack up. It is a line through an urban area that will require a significant amount of tunneling and property purchase it isn’t going to be cheap. There is no way the CRL business case would have stacked up with 15 min frequencies and four carriage trains.

          The other issue is the CBD section of this line will be very popular with people transferring from Hutt Valley and Kapiti trains, you would need higher capacity on this section of the line at least.

        4. If airport-rail in Wellington doesn’t allow for journeys from the main lines (Hutt, Kapiti) to the airport then it will be a white elephant. The main road-traffic generators are these areas and the whole point of extending the rail system is to provide an alternative to forever trying to accommodate more traffic,

          Extending the Johnsonville Line only would be fine for Johnsonville but pretty ineffectual for the rest of the region.

          And proposing, as some do, that passengers from the other lines could simply interchange to the Jville-Airport LRT at Wellington station ignores the reality that the patronage imbalance between City-Jville and City-South would be massive.

          We currently have 2 main-line regional rail routes plus the Jville Line stopping dead at Wellington Station and thousands of people mostly proceeding on foot beyond there. Those whose destinations lie further than about 1Km from the railway station tend not to use rail, and hence Wellington’s major traffic conundrum. This service needs to extend further, and it needs to be extended compatibly with what is feeding it – i.e. peak flows of perhaps 10,000pph. This is not street-tram territory.

        5. Connecting a double tracked line, heavy or light, from the Railway Station to the airport to any single track line, to Johnsonville, heavy or light, does not any make sense at all.

        6. The debate about connecting the Wellington Region to the airport is like the Auckland debate becoming too focused on the relatively minor market of airport passengers. The prime requirement, is a far improved system to get the northern suburb and the regions beyond, originating passengers, further into the city quickly, but only some of them, will be all the way to the airport. Secondly, just as importantly, giving Kilbirnie, and Newtown originating passengers a faster and more reliable service into the CBD and to the Railway station for onward journeying.
          Thirdly, and again crucially important, is the need to reduce bus traffic, and the fossil fuel consumption and noise pollution, in the inner city. When deciding as to the vehicle type, an important consideration should be the ease of extending the service, A future branch to Island bay and extension to Seatoun as obvious starters, but Karori needs something as well. The advantage of some form of RTN is that it is very feasible to add these places, something not available to any provision of a four, or more lane roading solution.

        7. We call it a “proposed extension to the airport” because that is a logical end-point for it. That certainly doesn’t mean serving the airport is its only role. Not by a country mile.
          Providing connectivity to the rest of the regional-rail-spine for the 100,000 or so who live south of the present rail catchment and also for the many businesses and amenities in this area, would be the main justification for it.

          When such time comes that it seriously looks like it will be built, we can name it something else. The “Southern Line” for instance (boring!), or perhaps a Maori-sounding name like the “Rongotai Line” or “Poneke Line”. Maybe even the “Dave B Line”, since I am the only one who has tried to push for it since it fell off the radar in the early 1970’s!
          But. . . cart-before-horse. First, we just need to get agreement that extending the rail system to the Southern CBD, Newtown, Kilbirnie and the airport is an absolute priority if we seriously want to get Wellington moving.

  17. Dave you are correct in that the reach of the existing Wellington Heavy network, by the percentage population served is much larger, compared to Auckland. So a workable network solution for Wellington will not necessarily replicate a workable solution for Auckland, and vice versa. Each route needs to be assessed uniquely but in terms of a role in a network. In a network transfers are inevitable. Minimising transfers is beneficial, but for the inevitable transfer points then the quality and speed of transfer facilities is important. There are a huge number of trade offs between modes. The weight of the vehicles, their wheelbase, and wheel construction is largely irrelevant. What is important is the degree of separation of the rapid transport corridor and the rest of the world. Even that has trade offs. Heavy Rail stations are relatively inaccessible to their catchment compared to bus stops and Light Rail stops. And then there is funding. Here Auckland by virtue of it’s population, is at an advantage over Wellington, there are of course disadvantages too! But the weather is not one of them! And lastly politics, we seem to be at an advantage here too in Auckland over Wellington, by getting underway earlier in the PT renaissance, and having a unitary Authority.

    1. Unitary authority is key. WCC are trying to deal direct with NZTA for Rapid transit, bypassing the Regional Council. Both CHCH and WGTN are being held back by their fractured governance.

      1. GWRC has made a hash of the current multi hub rapid bus network which is a total waste of money to region’s rate payers.

  18. Auckland airport is already served with good bus services provided by Skybus, InterCity Coachlines, Skip and AT’s own Airporter 380 that connects with HR at Onehunga and Papatoetoe plus all riding sharing services like taxis/Uber (Uber is a taxi service) and shuttlebus operators.

    InterCity Coachlines and Skip have timetable running times of 30 minutes between city centre and airport but can be done in 25 minutes making it the quickest bus services if not caught in Auckland’s car congestion at peak times.

    The problem has been, that NZTA hasn’t factor in dedicated busways in its State Highway Auckland projects due to its fixation of cars and trucks.

  19. its not just about getting people to the airport its about getting people and luggage to the airport. the practicalities of buses and light rail is why people take the care when they are going to the airport with anything more than hand luggage.

    1. Most domestic air travellers have only hand luggage and a surprisingly high proportion of international travellers likewise. So air travellers with a full baggage allowance wanting to go to another railway station between the airport and the CBD is simply not important enough to feature in rational transport planning.

  20. I really appreciate he originators of the “Congestion Free Network” and that focus needs to be kept in mind.
    It also needs to be kept in mind that we hopefully we are going to address the “Carbon question” either by making the ETS effective provided it doesn’t become an investment game like the stock exchange.
    As far as access to the airport is concerned then we need to think about the hours that the flights operate and the people that work there operate.
    We have used the 380 several times and found it to suit us.
    We have used PT buses and trains at other international airports as well. They may be slower than taxis but they suit us and we usually research the travel options and time is allowed to make our connections. As long as the PT has available timetable we didn’t mind using several changes on the way. It was all part of meeting the locals.

  21. Not knowing the situation in Auckland I can’t make recommendations, but there are situations in which airport connectors are good. Vancouver made the right choice to send half the Canada Line trains to the airport, and New York should extend the Astoria Line to LaGuardia. Overrated doesn’t mean bad – sometimes things that are overrated are still good.

    The one other thing I want to warn about is that sometimes the people who overrate airport connectors specifically overrate bad connectors, like premium express links. Paris has regular RER B trains running nonstop between the city and Charles-de-Gaulle every 15 minutes, as well as all-stops trains every 15 minutes, but the region is still wasting money on two new airport connectors, one a premium airport link to Gare de l’Est (located farther from city center than the city RER B stops) and one a driverless line that was bundled with far more valuable elements of Grand Paris Express.

  22. I recently talked to somebody about the decision on the location of the head office of an NGO. An important consideration was the good transit connection to an international airport.
    That is just one instance, but some cities and countries explicitly put a lot of money into airport transit, because they perceive this as a competitive advantage (or lack of disadvantage) against other cities.
    In other words, good public transit to the airport is essential for a modern city, not a nice-to-have. That could be one of the reasons why airport connections are internationally “overrated”.
    Maybe New Zealand is too far out of the way to compete as a location for businesses and conferences. But surely if money is spent on promoting a city (or building a conference centre), the connection to the airport has to be right first.

    1. Huh. “decision on the location of the head office of an NGO”. Reminds me of the “bad old days” of the NZ Railways company circa 2002 – those idiots who moved the Head office of the Railways to office space in Takapuna. Not only was it not near an Airport, it was also not near a Railway. Small wonder therefore that they almost went bankrupt. Well, that, and the millions of dollars the company was sucking out of the country and spiriting away in Swiss bank accounts, before they had to be sacked and the railways bailed out once again by the NZ taxpayer.

  23. I use Heathrow Connect, a lot cheaper than the Express and a lot more comfortable than the tube.

    I would probably use the Express if I was travelling for business though.

    However, it is largely irrelevant what you or I do, it is whether that sort of service is viable at an airport with 1/4 of the passenger volumes of Heathrow.

  24. The entire post is a strawman.
    An airport rail line, (Metro preferrable) is an obvious choice because it would anchor one end of it, while somewhere like Albany in the north would be the other.
    This would offer a seamless transport spine through the city with decent commute times, unemcubered by street-level city traffic. Also allowing people from Southern Auckland suburbs (including disadvantaged areas) to access city/north Absolutely nobody is arguing for Airport-express type services.
    Nobody is arguing for an airport-express

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