Auckland Transport announced on Friday that the $60 million upgrade of the Puhinui Station into a full bus/train interchange will start at the end of September. The station will eventually be part of a busway from the airport to Botany, making it much easier to access the airport via public transport. There is a catch though as to facilitate the upgrade, Auckland Transport are closing the station.
The station will provide a seamless experience for bus and train commuters, particularly those heading towards Auckland Airport. The new interchange will open in early 2021 and is part funded through the Regional Fuel Tax (RFT).
During construction the existing train station will be temporarily closed, from Saturday, 28 September to early 2021.
This is required to enable the build to be completed as quickly as possible, and to remove any health and safety risks to members of the public.
To limit disruption during the station closure, a new, free, Puhinui – Papatoetoe loop bus service will run everyday – with services every 10 minutes during peak times – providing station users with southern and eastern train line connections from Papatoetoe Station.
The 349 Puhinui – Papatoetoe service will not require a HOP card or cash ticket, and takes 10-15 minutes in each direction.
Auckland Transport Chief Executive Shane Ellison says the temporary station closure will be worth the wait. “We understand any level of disruption is challenging, however, when we re-open the Puhinui Station Interchange in 2021 we’ll have an amazing, new and modern facility that will transform and revitalise the area.”
“The new station will also allow for easy bus and rail connections from the interchange to the airport, Manukau and Britomart. Travel times to the airport from Puhinui will be only 10 minutes along priority lanes.”
The Puhinui Station Interchange is being delivered in stages, the first stage is an early improvement of the Airport to Botany Rapid Transit project. This project is led by Auckland Transport, and forms part of the wider Southwest Gateway programme.
The Southwest Gateway programme involves the NZ Transport Agency, Auckland Transport and Auckland Airport working together to deliver transport projects that will improve access to the airport and its surrounding area to benefit workers, travellers, tourists and freight movements.
As part of the announcement they’ve released this video. Overall I think it’s nice and clear with my only real gripe being it is heavily focused on city to airport trips and should also show the southern line extending past Puhinui as it will be able to be used by those using trains south of Puhinui, such as for trips from Papakura to the Airport.
Closing the station is obviously a big step and off the top of my head the only other station that has had to close for an upgrade was Newmarket, and temporary stations were built while that happened. Puhinui is used a lot less than Newmarket is/was though and based on HOP data my guess is approximately 750 people will be impacted. A brief explanation of how I got to that number is below.
Using the annual boarding/alighting data I have from Auckland Transport, during the 2017/18 financial year there were just over 176k boardings, and slightly less alightings. About 87.5% of all train trips occur on a business day so that that works out at about 600 per day each way. However, that number doesn’t include transfers between Southern and Eastern Line trains, such as for trips from Papakura to Manukau. Including those adds about another 42k or about 150 per business day.
Despite not being the busiest station, it is good to see AT are putting on a shuttle for people to use. More details about it are on the project page.
I wonder if the rail timetable will be updated to reflect one less stop being made – this should equate to trains being about 1 minute faster on both the Southern and Eastern Lines. Also, in the last AT board papers it suggested a new rail timetable was coming soon, it would make sense to tie it in with that.
The announcement that construction is starting follows the project being confirmed in May after having been delayed by the NZTA. With these latest details, having AT only say the project will finish in early 2021 and Phil Goff’s press release only saying it will be completed before APEC, it suggests the NZTA delays have meant it won’t be completed prior to the America’s Cup in March 2021, like originally intended.
There’s no date or information yet on exactly when that second stage of the upgrade will occur, or more on the rest of the Airport to Botany route, such as how it will connect to Manukau. In response to questioning that on Friday, AT told me: “it’s looking like the second round of public engagement for this will take place later in the year, and will include a suite of information – including the preferred route.”
Once construction starts at the end of next month it will mean we have four separate and major parts of our Rapid Transit Network under construction at the same time with the others being the City Rail Link, Northern Busway extension and the Eastern Busway.