Auckland International Airport Limited (“Auckland Airport”) is calling on regional transport planners to accelerate improvements to Airport-related public transport services, including the eventual provision of an Airport rail link.
In its submission to the Auckland Regional Council on the draft Auckland Regional Land Transport Strategy (“RLTS”), Auckland Airport says plans for a Rapid Transit Network (“RTN”) link to the Airport, whether rail or some intermediate step, should be accelerated and ideally put in place prior to 2020. The draft RLTS proposes an Airport rail connection in the 2031-40 timeframe.
In the shorter term, public transport services should be upgraded to Quality Transit Network (“QTN”) standards (such as dedicated bus lanes) to provide an appropriate connection to the Airport from both the CBD and the North Shore.
The submission also points out there is no commitment in the RLTS to creating a direct connection to the CBD and other centres for both QTN and private transport. For the foreseeable future, the main CBD route will still be via the suburbs of Royal Oak and Epsom “this is fundamentally incompatible with the character of those suburbs which are predominantly residential and have a very high concentration of schools.”
Auckland Airport says public transport connections to the Airport are currently weak by international comparisons and as a consequence patronage is low. Although improvements are being made to Airport Express bus services, service quality is hampered by wide variances in travel times due to traffic congestion.
The submission notes the overall intention of the RLTS is to invest in public transport services ahead of demand. But there is no significant short-to-medium-term investment planned to ensure that the Airport has reliable public transport connections to the region that will be attractive enough to incentivise greater use.
“Public transport connections to the Airport are already insufficient to meet existing demand and therefore require significant investment by transport authorities to bridge the existing gap before capacity for future growth can be provided.”
Auckland Airport General Manager Property Peter Alexander said: “We’ve made this submission as an advocate for the millions of travellers who fly into and out of Auckland Airport each year, the thousands of airport workers who commute on a daily basis, and the hundreds of companies that reside within or rely on the airport business district. Further improvements to ground transport links are essential if Auckland Airport is to maximise its already significant contribution to the Auckland regional and national economies.”
Although pleasing progress was being made on better roading infrastructure (such as the State Highway 20 upgrade and the second Manukau Harbour crossing), more needed to be done in the area of public transport, Mr Alexander commented.
Auckland Airport’s submission on the draft Regional Land Transport Strategy can be downloaded from: