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Thinking about rail to the Airport

The one transport project we tend to follow on this blog more than any other is the City Rail Link. That project is now ticking along and Auckland Transport are proceeding with the designation but another important project has also been going on fairly silently in the background, rail to the airport. It is currently being investigated as part of a whole package of works that includes what roading upgrades are needed and used to be known by the awkward to pronounce acronym SWAMMCP which stood for South Western Airport Multi Modal Corridor Plan. It has had a change of name which I believe was largely focused on making it easier to pronounce so is now called SMART or South-western Multi-modal Airport Rapid Transit. Acronyms aside, we haven’t heard a lot lately about what is happening so here is what the latest board report said about it:

Work continues on route alignment and station options for the rapid transit elements of SMART as well as the roading (including cycling and walking) alignments. Phase 2 is scheduled for completion in December/January 2012/13.

The last few reports have actually said the same thing and I suspect that it might not be for a few months after that we actually see what is proposed however we can probably make a bit of a guess. Unless the current study has come up with a new outcome we will probably see a refinement of the option that came out of a 2008 study on the issue. At that time it recommended a loop that was built from Onehunga south to the airport then heading east to Puhinui to connect with the existing southern line, as is shown below in blue.

Now while it would be nice to build the thing all in one go, I think the reality is that even with a supportive council and government we will only be able to build one of the links so for this post I thought I would look at some of the pros and cons of each.

Onehunga

This would see the Onehunga line extended south over the Manukau harbour on the way to the airport.

Pros

  • The line would effectively be just an extension of the Onehunga line (which is due to be duplicated as part of the works for the CRL). This means that effectively services could be run without putting any additional pressure on the existing rail network.
  • The suggested route from Onehunga passes through a number of potential locations for stations on its way to the airport. These are Mangere Bridge, Mangere and the industrial area around Montgomerie Rd. Stations in these locations would help to provide additional patronage on top of those that are just going to the airport. Stats NZ suggest that by 2040 there will be about 40,000 people living in within a short distance of the rail line. This makes it much more a line for the south west of the city rather than just an airport line.
  • Once the line got across the harbour there is the ability for it to be staged so that some of the benefits of the line could start being achieved earlier or construction could be stopped until we had the funds to complete the line i.e.  we could build the line to Mangere town centre then hold there for a few years until more funds became available. This could be crucial, especially if funding is tight.
  • As the route is slightly more direct, it would be a little bit faster than the Puhinui option for a trip to town.

Cons

  • The biggest issue with building a line from Onehunga is the cost. The 2008 report suggested it would cost $707 million vs a link from the east at $471m
  • The recently build additional harbour crossing has been future proofed to have rail lines on it but there would likely still be quite a cost to actually put it in. There is also quite a bit of development near the previously suggested corridor which means there may be a need for substantial property purchases.

Puhinui

This would see a branch line heading west from the area around Puhinui all the way to the airport. It may or may not be linked up directly to Manukau.

Pros

  • The biggest thing in the favour of this option is the cost. The figures in the 2008 document suggest it would cost around $470 million, around 1/3 cheaper than the Onehunga link option.
  • The route is largely over green field land so much less impact to any communities and businesses.
  • It also provides rail access to the airport for those from the southern suburbs.

Cons

  • While it is cheaper to build, it also has much less patronage potential as there are no other stops other than the airport.
  • It is unlikely that trips by travellers to/from airport alone will be able to support enough passenger trips alone to make building the line worthwhile.
  • Perhaps the biggest problem with linking only to Puhinui only is that it forces yet another line on to the tracks between Puhinui and the Westfield Junction. That line is already pretty busy with lots of passenger and freight trains so trying to squeeze more trains on would really affect the capacity of the other lines.

Ideally I think we need to consider building the whole line so that we can get the most benefits out of it. If we had to pick one option then I think it needs to be the from the north simply due to the greater potential that it provides . This is of course just my opinion but if we were to be faced with a one or the other decision, I’m keen to hear what you think?

60 comments to Thinking about rail to the Airport

  • Agree the focus needs to be less on the Airport and more on the SW loop to service areas where PT is currently poor. Build the line in stages from Onehunga. First stop Miro Rd?

  • Well the two options here are not really comparable, not apples and apples.

    The first serves a whole area as well as the airport, an area that is both underserved by transit and badly affected by motorway severance splitting communities. The latter is simply an airport shuttle.

    The first can support a more frequent service because 1. Its catchment is bigger and more varied; all the current Onehunga Line, plus Mangere homes and businesses, and the airport. and 2. By being the extension of an existing branch line it doesn’t add more inefficient complexity and duplication to the network’s running pattern.

    For the different costs we get very different assets. The southern route would be hard to run with sufficient frequency to make it the obvious choice for travellers and staff at the airport and as it goes nowhere else it would live and die on this metric alone.

    Manukau City is simply on the wrong side of the Southern Line to link between the Airport and the CBD until such a time as there is an South Eastern extension to this station. So the time to build the full loop is as part of a full South/South-Eastern Link; Airport, Manukau, Botany, Pakuranga, GI. 2040. Then there are obvious and efficient running patterns for this line as well as fantastic connections for so so many more communities. But the important thing is to protect the route and it should be a connection to Manukau City [and the southern Line] and not at Puhinui.

    In terms of staging like the CRL, get the line in to its target; the airport from Onehunga [double track the existing O-line] and complete the station fitouts along its route as the line is commissioned. Unless waiting to coordinate with terminal developments at the airport it would be pretty pointless to not get to the big target destination before opening. But I guess given how the RoNS are crowding out any other transport investments in NZ we have to scrape for crumbs for any other mode.

    • Patrick that is kind of the point. People often look at the eastern link and say its the cheapest option lets just built that but that ignores all of the benefits that the Northern option gives. I do disagree though about the needing to wait for the whole thing to be finished before we open any stations. Unless you poured mega bucks into it you are going to have construction spread out over a number of years and the contractors will do one section and then move on the next. That means as you finish each section you can open the station/s associated with it and start building patronage.

  • Steve Westie

    Would be interested to know how supportive the airport company are of the rail idea, if at all. They have only paid passing attention to it in the past. This may be because it has the potential to remove a large chunk of revenue ($37 million or so last year, up about 9.5% on prior year!) from carparking and as the council are still a part owner, it may also damage the dividend stream in the short term. If they were far sighted (!), they would realise that the land (and lease income) value around the airport could increase significantly if the transit times were reduced to the city.
    Agree – would make sense for the Onehunga line to be first, as a staged extension which should be a priority given the large commercial growth areas before you reach the airport and the poorly pt serviced residential areas. Also, an interim step would be to build a bus way or bus lanes to Puhinui which could be converted to rail at a later stage.
    It is amazing how poorly public transport is advertised at the airport.it would make sense to have an AT kiosk at the international and domestic terminals for example. The airport website also does not really highlight the rail connection options as another point. Longer term, there would be massive demand for a rail service between Tauranga, Hamilton and Auckland Airport, given the frequency of flights from Tauranga to Auckland and also the shuttle bus services from that location, which would make the Puhinui case even more justified.

  • Steve Westie

    Parking revenue was over $36m last year, up 9.5% on prior year. Think this might explain the reluctance to expand public transport in the area.

    • Steve Westie

      That is airport parking to clarify! It is amazing how poorly public transport options are communicated at the airport, for example surely it would be logical to have a small AT kiosk or similar at both terminals to enhance awareness along with a more frequent 360 bus service and better rail connections etc. Puhinui could be connected by bus lanes as an interim step, with longer term potential for rail connections to Hamilton and Tauranga, who have a huge number of people currently using either the short distance flights or shuttle buses due to lack of choice. Agree that there is a huge amount of commercial growth in the area that makes a phased Onehunga extension make sense to be first off the blocks and freight could be a big user. Would have thought the airport company would realise that in the long term this would be great in terms of higher commercial lease income potential!

    • There comes a point where the land currently occupied by parking has more value for other uses. There will still be parking and driving of course but adding another mode means there is less pressure to pave every inch of Mangere for parking. Recent additions to the parking supply out there have been at considerable distance to the terminals involving shuttles etc which suggests that terminal access is not efficient these days. The airport is pretty clever at pricing parking [and everything else] I doubt that the addition of the train line will cripple this market but will certainly allow yet more differentiated models, and allow more development options on current parking land like that new hotel.

      • Ingolfson

        There will also be the point where the airport realises that they could potentially get a major asset to their business model “for free” (well, they may have to chip in a for a station and provide the land for the rail, but they won’t pay the airport rail costs as such themselves). At that stage they will realise that the potential business boost is much more substantial than the reduction they would face in their car parking business.

  • Has there been any consideration of the freight potential of this line? There are heaps of DCs in the area, and quite few more to be built over the next few years (also a source of employment related transit). Would the freight potential be enough to encourage building both sections of line at once, along with Onehunga/Southdown, if this could ease pressure on the Westfield section?

    • Ingolfson

      I don’t know if they looked at it (I would suspect not). I don’t think the airport-related freight sector (which is all about high-value, low-weight, time critical components) will be easy to convince to use reight rail, which has been run down so much it is of little use for such freight.

      Plus, any freigth trains would affect reliability and potentially service times for passenger rail. So either you have worse passenger service / less potential for future passenger frequency increases, or you totally prioritise passenger trains, making freight trains second- or third-order priority, which again means freight rail becomes less attractive on the route.

      • Probably not useful for the air freight itself but may be useful for the industrial land surrounding the airport i.e. there could be a new freight hub or factories built on empty land next to the lines with sidings etc.

  • Stu Donovan

    Stepping back from the alignment question I have to ask: Do people think the economic benefits of rail to SW Auckland will outweigh the costs? I’m dubious – not that that should stop us from securing an appropriate designation, but I do want to flag that I would hate for the political attractiveness of this project to cause its construction timetable to be shunted up the list ahead of other more worthy PT projects.

    • I agree that it needs to stack up economically and I believe that producing a business case is the next step in the process so I guess we would have to wait till then to see what it looked like. That old report probably used transport models from a few generations ago which we know tend to pretty underestimate PT demand and suggested that there may be 3000 trips across the Manukau harbour not including air passengers however it suggested that a number of potential factors which would increase this number e.g. if private transport costs doubled in real terms from 2008 vs the same PT costs it would lead to a 58% increase in patronage. A 5-10% decrease in vehicle ownership would lead to a 21% increase in patronage etc. All up it suggests that the mode share could double over a 30-40 year time frame so the numbers in that report are well out of date now.

      • Richard D

        Given that the whole scheme is unaffordable now, I can see a range of options for the intermediate stages. Without knowing costs and benefits associated with the component parts of the whole scheme it is hard to be sure what the relative merits of the intermate options might be. Some radically different ones that sprang to my mind are:

        +single track (double track formation) Onehunga – Airport with sufficient passing loops for extending the existing ½ hourly service, then as cash becomes available add intermediate stations and their road access infrastructure, and extend second track as frequency requires. [Probably assumes Airport - City is greatest benefit generator.]

        +double track to Onehunga and progressively extend it towards the airport, in additional intermediate station sized bites.[Probably assumes linking the intermediate points to the city is the greatest benefit generator.]

        +single track (double track formation) Puhinui – Airport with sufficient passing loops for the proposed service level then extend towards Onehunga building intermediate stations and extending the extent of double track as required. [Probably assumes linking intermediates with the airport is more important than linking them with the city, and implicitly assumes that capacity is found for the extra service and the link over the harbour is difficult / expensive and should be left til last.]

        etc

        Then there is the whole issue of business case analysis and what is or isn’t allowed to be included. The wider economic benefits from reducing the journey time between Auckland CBD to all the other NZ cities by way of reducing the time between Auckland CBD and the airport, is probably significant. Whether it is significant enough to make a fast direct link take precedence over linking the likes of Mangere Bridge to the rail network, I have no idea.
        That leads to a side issue of which option is “best” and which option generates the best business case allowed using NZTA rules.

        In any event, it is the sort of informed analysis that needs to be done before any one option is pushed ahead of the others. The “obvious” best choice rarely is.

        • Stu Donovan

          Good analysis.

          • Patrick Reynolds

            I would like contest your first sentence. Unaffordable? Doesn’t that depend on value?, perhaps you mean costly. Yes all major transport infrastructure is costly. So yes, more analysis, as you say is the way forward.

          • Richard D

            Patrick, I meant “unaffordable” in the sense of “irrespective of its ‘worth’ (however measured) the funder does not have the means to fund the (full) investment in the timescales being considered”. I didn’t mean to imply it was uneconomic nor that funds for the full scheme coulcn’t be found eventually.

        • I agree with some of the staging options suggested (except with starting from the east) although I would probably add, extend a single track section from Onehunga south progressively to intermediate stations with sufficient passing loops until double track can be justified.

          I think that people who suggest that we could build a line from Puhinui and then carry it on to Onehunga in the future are naive. What would happen is the line would be built and likely not get enough passenger numbers alone to justify its existence. Then when going to get funding to build the Onehunga part opponents will just point to the existing line and say “you already have one link to the airport that doesn’t work, why do you need two”. I think the reality of politics means that we would have effectively killed any chance of getting the northern access sorted

          • Richard D

            It partly depends on how the schem is “sold”. If all the publicity from the start is for the full scheme – albeit built in stages – and that the initial part is merely stage 1, then coming for further funding for stage 2 will not come as a surprise and ought to be be easier than if you need to seek funding for a seperate scheme. But you are right that care needs to be taken when subdividing the whole scheme that no intermediate step is left without a stand alone business case, or subsequent steps will fall.

          • Unless the funding for the whole package was agreed and a water tight contract signed for it then I fear that an inevitable change in political masters would seek to re litigate the whole thing, despite what had been said and promised earlier. We all know the story about how Banks in his first mayoralty tried to kill Britomart but the contract meant it would have cost more to do so than build it.

        • Peter M

          I doubt much money would be saved by single tracking compared to double tracking if you needed to acquire the whole corridor for two tracks.

          • And it must be double tracked, there are economies of scale to doing it all at once, not to mention the added costs of trying to work on the line once it is functioning. Really, is anyone proposing to build half of Waterview first, then come back and do the other half? Onehunga can function on a single track because it is very short and runs infrequently. It was the right thing to do under the circumstances. But any extension of it will need to be done properly from now.

          • Richard D

            Yes, there are economies of scale from doing the whole thing at once, and yes there would be horrible abortive costs from staging the scheme, but if there is only funding available for a single line version, what do you do: progress the single line version whilst lobbying for more funding to become available once the scheme shows its true worth, or progress nothing whilst lobying continues for full funding?

            in terms of costs saving, without access to the appendices of the referenced document it is hard to estimate the savings from installing only a single track, but you could for example only put in single track bridge spans, whilst probably building abutments fit for a second one later. There may be half as many platforms to construct. There will be less track and simpler signalling.

          • Richard, one thing to consider is that the further you build as a single track the more expensive it becomes to retro-fit to double, in terms of both raw capital cost and also the disruption cost to services using the line. Also, you reach a point with a single track where it becomes so long that you cannot extend it any further without having to build so many passing loops that you may as well just do the job properly. Onehunga can only really sustain six trains an hour (three bi-di services) once the EMUs come in because it’s so long and there are no passing loops. Extending a single track beyond Onehunga would require at least a passing loop on the existing branch in order to avoid impacting on the existing service level, and to extend much beyond Mangere Bridge would require another passing loop. At which point I’m starting to wonder what possible benefit there is to doing a half-arse job when it’s not saving much capital cost and doing it properly in future is going to have a much higher cost.

  • Anthony

    http://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/EN/planspoliciesprojects/plansstrategies/areaplans/Documents/draftmangereotahuhusummary.pdf
    The map in this document is probably the most recent publication from the council showing potential stations & route.
    Of note:
    -the connection to the Onehunga line under Mangere Bridge
    -potential extension to Avondale
    -through station at the airport ~500m away from the Int’l terminal building

    • Insane. Stations must be directly integrated to the terminals…. not half a k away across the carpark. Ha.

      • It has been mentioned that map is just to give a general indication and it wasn’t influenced by the work going on at the moment so I don’t think it is worth reading much into. Call it artistic interpretation, if anything I would say it was mainly influenced by that 2008 study.

      • Stu Donovan

        Not sure I agree – that car-park may not be a car-park for much longer, in fact it may turn into a shopping mall, e.g. Schipol.

      • Richard D

        Manchester Airport seems to work perfectly well with a single station serving both terminal complexes. There is a covered travellator walkway linking 300m one way to one complex and another 500m the other way to the other complex. This has the added avantage of providing covered and travellator access between the terminal complexes independent of the station.
        A single station halves the capital cost of the construction of the rail stations (and halves the operating cost of them too – as realistically airport stations need to be manned 24/7). There is additional capital and operational cost of the travellator, but it does brings other benefits – such as covered access between terminals and to one of the main airport hotels..

        • The airport plan to move the domestic terminal in next to the International in the future so a single station is all that would be needed anyway.

        • Liz

          Except we know that the Auckland version wouldn’t be as good as in Manchester* – most of the walkways there are enclosed, heated, etc. And even with the warm walkways and the travelators (still slower than walking, as per usual), it’s still really annoying to have to walk that far to the train station, especially late at night with a heavy bag. It only works in Manchester because people are used to the convenience, reliability, and relative cheapness of trains (vs taxis), and many people don’t have cars. I think that in Auckland it would definitely discourage users. If the terminals are beside each other, then we’d only have one station anyway, which would be great. If not, they should choose which terminal is most important to have the station under/beside, and run a free shuttle bus to the other terminal.

          * I imagine it as being more akin to SeaTac airport in the US where I had to walk for ages through a parking building to get to the train… of course I hope this won’t be true, but I’m prepared for the disappointment of it all.

      • SteveD

        Well, the station has to be at least half a k away from either the domestic or international terminals, because that’s how far apart they are from each other. Luckily, there’s an easy location right out the the front of the international terminal: there’s nothing but carparks and a little bit of driveway between it and the open land to the north. Which is another benefit of the northern approach: no need to knock down half the airport to get there!

  • Chris Randal

    There was a story a while ago that the domestic terminal was to be relocated closer to the international one.

  • KLK

    Anecdotally, I’d be very surprised if a line from Onehunga to the airport didn’t stack up well under a BCR.

    When linked with the branch line, it provides a direct route between (AFAIK) the two largest employment hubs in the region – the CBD and the airport. Right smack bang in the middle, and the beneficiaries of 3-4 extra stations, a lot of low-income households, likely working in one of those two hubs, and spending a disproportionate amount of money on private transport costs given the poor PT in the area.

    And that’s even before you talk about travellers. 12m passengers trips last year. Even if you grabbed just 5% of that market, that is 1600 passengers per day. That’s a pretty good base to start from. This has winner written all over it.

    But this is NZ and I can see the powers-that-be running a bus-lane option up against it. Now that wouldn’t be a bad result first up, but I wouldn’t have thought it would be too long until that reaches capacity and we turn to rail. So why not do it right first up.

    • The cost of a bus-way would be horrendous if it was to be in any way time-saving-comparable to rail, because there’s no existing dedicated road corridor that connects the SW Motorway to the Southern without running all the way down to Manukau and then looping back. So there’d be massive property acquisition costs to get within cooee of the Mangere Bridge-Airport corridor, plus the capital construction to then build a grade-separated right-of-way in order to give buses something approximating a fighting chance against rail. If it’s done poorly people won’t bother to use it because it’s too hard and takes too long. The only way it could possibly work would be to build dedicated lanes around from Onehunga Harbour Road onto the motorway, but unlike the NBW’s connection to Britomart it’s a bloody long haul from the end of the SW Motorway to the airport through a bunch of intersections and roundabouts; it’d be quicker than navigating Fanshawe St, but it’s so far that people would expect a full bus-way to be constructed in order to keep up the speeds. Again, if they were to suggest a bus-way against extending the railway it would have to be done properly in order to provide comparable service speeds. And unlike a bus-way, the railway is already constructed through a lot of the built-up area with mostly low-value residential along the remaining route.

  • KLK

    Once this thing is up and running – and well-patronised – the drums will be beating for a link to Manakau to start straight away. Then everyone on the Southern and Eastern lines can enjoy the same benefits. Although its probably more likely that we get a busway (future-proofed) on that route first.

  • The long term plan for the airport is to build a new facility for Domestic as a new northern wing of the International Terminal. Presumably the existing domestic terminal would be put to non-passenger uses.

    This is because the (currently mothballed but partially constructed) second runway is located to the north of the terminals. This runway will be shorter and only used by smaller domestic aircraft, freeing up space on the main runway for more international services.

    Without a new terminal extension, domestic planes would have to taxi a good 4km around the international terminal to get between the existing domestic terminal and the new domestic runway, and share taxiways with international planes.

    Long story short, in the not too distant future AIAL will build a big new extension of the international terminal and end up with international and domestic as two sides of the same building. This is obviously the ideal opportunity to integrate a rail (and bus) station into the new construction and have it located near the middle of the one terminal servicing both domestic and international passengers.

  • Steve

    I would consider any station proposals at the airport as placeholders given that there might be the second runway being built and a move of the domestic terminal. It would be better for stations in both terminals if the master plan at the airport is not an integrated terminal or at least a scenario where domestic pax are advised to go one end of the train, international the other if they will only be 200 m apart.

    In terms of the route, the Onehunga and Mangere route probably has a better chance of stacking up economically as it would link more of the region into the rail network and allow for a station in the industrial area alongside SH20A

    • Yep it’s mothballed for now, but the domestic runway will happen sooner or later. The location of it isn’t going to change, and nor is the need for new domestic facilites on the right side.

      I think there is more of a case for one station for the terminals, and a second about 1.2km east, on the side of the site where the employment is concentrated.

    • P2P

      If both lines are build, is it suggested to build them as a loop or a two separate lines ending at the airport?

      I would think two separate lines have some advantages. In Paris or Munich the airport is in its own fare zone getting a some extra money out of passengers. However still best value in comparison to other options like parking or taxi. Such a scheme is hard (if possible) to realize if the service is run as a loop.

      On the other hand a loop would be nice as a express service connecting Auckland city and airport with the south (Pukekohe, Huntly, Hamilton) and would make a potential Hamilton-Auckland train service a more viable option.

      • There’s no point building lines from both directions and not joining them, given the distances involved. This is not a short spur, so running high-frequency services would tie up a huge amount of rolling stock. Plus, this is not about the airport, it’s about the entire south-west. Not linking them would make it highly inconvenient for people wishing to commute to/from the Mangere Bridge-Airport Oaks corridor through to the entire stretch south of Penrose.

        We also shouldn’t be treating the airport as a special case for fares. It should be fared based on distance, just like every other stop, because it should just be another stop. If we try and gouge travellers we’ll lose the locals, who are far, far more important, and because it will be a very long way to the next-closest stops they won’t do what happens in Sydney where commuters alight a stop before the airport and walk the rest of the way. Instead they just won’t use the service at all, and I wouldn’t blame them; I’d be saying “Screw you AT” right along with them. Paris and Munich have airports that are in dead-end locations. The only way Auckland could justify any such thing would be if there was a line from only one direction, and that would make it much, much less useful generally.

  • KLK

    Really nice story in the Herald this morning which, in part, relates to opening up this part of Auckland to greater PT.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10836988

    Kids from a Mangere school on a trip to the waterfront. Some have never been to the harbour. One kid as only been on a bus once. Sure, for safety reasons school trips might always be limited buses. But with rail passing through this area, linking to other lines, integrated ticketing with buses/ferries. SW Auckland is an area that would really benefit. Opens up huge opportunities for recreation, entertainment, employment, education….

  • Nick R

    So four hundred odd million for a branch off the southern line to a single terminal station that misses most of the residences and employment, or 50% more for a fourth line on the rail network covering off the southeast, with two rebuilt stations and five new ones. First option just doesn’t seem like it would ever be worthwhile.

    • We know that PT modelling in Auckland seriously underestimates trips and that is even with the latest models, the modelling for this would have been done at least 5 years ago using much older and likely even less accurate models yet it suggests that in the two hour peak more than 3000 people would head across the Manukau harbour every day before taking into account air travellers. What’s more there are a number of very possible scenarios listed that combined could see that number double.

  • Nick R

    Sydney does exactly that, charges extra for people using the airport station compared to other stations either side. Quite why you would want to I don’t know, as has been mentioned several times actual air travelers will be a small minority or users.

    I think it makes sense to run the lines as one, but that depends on the rest of the network. I don’t see much value in a short stub line shuttling between one station at the airport and a second at manukau.

    • Paul in Sydney

      Why? I believe the Sydney Airport line was privately funded PPP, its all under ground with 2 suburban and 2 airport stations, domestic and international. There was another planned station that was never built. The 2 airport stations have an extra fee to pay on top of the normal rail ticket, about $12. The State Gov now covers to fee that was also on the 2 suburb stations. Sydney airport is very close to the CBD so even a taxi is price competitive.

      • I know why Sydney does it, I just don’t know why Auckland would want to copy them. I’d much prefer lots of people use the station rather than driving people to taxis or buses through punitive extra charges.

  • Adam

    I truly love the idea of rail to the airport,

    My main thought, is that every time I go to a city with rail to the airport (Brisbane, San Fran as a couple of examples) I use the train, and it endears me to the city,

    Along with the other obvious benefits of serving a large (and still growing) employment hub, it really is a no-brainer!

  • MrV

    I’m wondering if what is needed firstly is something similar to the Orange Line metro in Washington DC, where an exisiting station (in this case West Falls Church station) is used as a seamless transfer point for buses to the airport (in this case IAD[Dulles]. If you can build patronage in this way, it may allow for the expansion route to come at a later point, as is the case in WashingtonDC with the silver line (under construction) which branches at East Falls Church and heads out to Dulles.

    In Aucklands case you would be forcing the Auckland Express bus service customers to use the train and then transfer to a bus to the airport. Continuing with express bus services (CBD-airport) makes having a rail line even harder to justify. If you made the change, you could use the revenue from the train-bus service to firstly fund improvments to the existing lines (seperate from freight etc), before doing the full expansion to airport later.

    In this idea I don’t really know whether you would be better to use Onehunga as the transfer or Puhinui.

    • Well Puhinui seems to the sitter for a train/bus transfer model. Puhinui Rd is on a direct and short route to SH20B

      It would require the construction of a new bridge over the station on Puhinui Rd with integrated bus interchange, lifts and stairs, and shelter. There looks like there is space and it would remove the current dog’s leg in the main traffic flow through a few residential streets. The current bridge could be reduced to cycling and walking width.

      Puhinui gets every Papakura and Manukau City train and one transfer away form all others. And would be on any future West/South direct.

      I note however that on the proposed Frequency map the bus service including the airport runs MC-Papatoetoe-Airport—Onehunga. In order I guess to include the bigger population centre of Papatoetoe.

      So why not Paptoetoe? Could do, but it looks quite a bit harder to directly link the buses and trains physically for people with a whole lot of luggage, although not impossible. More expensive and less elegant probably.

      • pete

        The 380 does do it – well kind off. The last time I tried to use it from the airport to catch a train, I could not even purchase a day ticket on the bus, despite it at the time being on a bus stickered with Maxx branding and the bus driver would accept the ticket if I had purchased one elsewhere. Talk about lack of joined up service. Onehunga to the Airport direct at least by bus in the short term would help those who live that way to not have to drive and also I think it would help build demand for rail to the airport in the longer term. Make it a limited stop service if you can get around the network of roads around SH20, helping to improve connections for those who work on the airport campus too without having to drive. As it is an airport service, make sure the bus has nice long operating hours as well – go big or go home.

  • Ross Clark

    What is the use of the current Airbus service? That should be our starting-point for any analysis.

    I’ve just completed a big research exercise looking at the way in which public transport is used to get to and from airports in the UK. What I found was that there are some major disincentives to the use of airport public transport, not the least of which is luggage; and from having used a lot of airport public transport over the years, I would also now say that the bulk of users are actually tourists. It certainly wasn’t about mode; one UK airport, somewhat smaller than Auckland, has over a third of its passengers arrive or leave the airport by its bus service. And that can be correlated with the number of foreign tourists getting into that particular airport.

    Anyone who would like to see a copy of the paper, which will be presented in the next fortnight, is welcome to email me at ross dot clark [at] scotland dot gsi dot gov dot uk, for a copy. I would be interested in seeing if its findings would apply in the New Zealand context as well.

    • obi

      The Airbus is my default method for getting out to the airport these days. Unless it is very late at night when I’ll resort to alternatives. It is frequent, cheap, and quick. It seems to be well patronised.

    • pete

      Would that be Edinburgh by any chance? My experience of Scottish airports and public transport range from the impressive – Prestwick to the dismal – Aberdeen.

      • Ross Clark

        Yes (it’s where I live, so I’ve used it a lot). From Prestwick, the train is great for access to Glasgow Central; if you want to get to Glasgow Queen St station or Buchanan Bus station from PIK, the bus service is what I would recommend.

    • Mr Anderson

      As far as I know the Airport Bus is fully commercial, pretty impressive considering it runs 24 hours a day.

  • KLK

    Aren’t we all focusing too much on the airport stop for travelers? Rather than daily commuters within the SW Auckland region to/from the two employment hubs of the CBD and airport?

    • Yes. But my look at the southern Line connection to the airport is just that. I am taking it as read that the Onehunga line needs to go to the Airport and serve Mangere on the way. Here are the stops south from Onehunga. The first three stations below existing bridges with bus interchanges above; a new spine with connection for the whole area:

      MANGERE BRIDGE at Rimu Rd
      FAVONA at Walmsley
      MANGERE TOWN CENTRE at Bader Drive or cd be called LANGE PARK
      IHUMATAO near Montgomery
      AIRPORT integrated with the new combined Terminal

      South Western Line Stations

      A station at Kirkbridge Rd intersection would be good for connecting with buses, but it would be difficult to accommodate and messes with the spacing….?

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