Attention goes north!
Airport chaos: Drive home ‘longer than Sydney flight’10:00 AM Saturday Dec 10, 2016
Holidaymakers are spending the same amount of time driving to and from Auckland Airport as the international flights they are catching.
In mid-November Lyn Versey landed at Auckland Airport and spent the same amount of time driving home to Orewa as it took her to fly from Sydney to Auckland.
Another traveler spent the same amount of time driving home to Greenlane as the 3.5 hour Sydney to Auckland flight.
More than a dozen people have shared their stories of travel chaos when traveling to and from Auckland Airport in the past month.
This morning the Herald reported passengers missed flights and up to a dozen Air New Zealand services were delayed after crew were caught in gridlock around Auckland Airport.
Since then similar stories have flooded in with some missing flights, family events and functions because of unusually heavy congestion.
And the traffic woes have been long term. Three weeks ago Phil Ker landed at Auckland Airport at 4.20pm for a function in the city at 6pm.
Ker caught the airport bus which took an hour to travel 600m. He finally reached city at 7.10pm and the function was over.
This week Christchurch man Barnaby Nye had to purchase new tickets for his wife and son after they spent an hour and a half on George Bolt Memorial drive heading to the airport and missed their flights.
Those and other headlines across the media-scape would have not escaped the attention of Prime Minister Bill English, Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett and Finance Minister Steven Joyce over the weekend. The question is what will they do given the Airport traffic situation is now a top non-earthquake related priority of national significance (given Auckland and Auckland International Airport are gateways to the world).
The Government, NZTA, Auckland Transport and Auckland International Airport are equally to blame for the mess that has led to the screaming headlines. Headlines that will fester like Auckland’s housing ‘crisis’ that gnaw away at authorities. The Airport through creating parking behemoths at the expense of proper transit facilities in their precinct because hey car parks make money transit stations do not. The Government and NZTA through prioritising motorways over transit that lead us to this mess at the Airport while Auckland Transport dropped the ball by pursuing this light rail from the City Centre near fetish when all the planning work for heavy rail was pretty much complete. All that was needed was a cheque and away we would have gone with an Airport Line ready by the time the City Rail Link has already opened.
So the question is what to do?
No point widening the roads as that will just make the congestion even worse especially on the already congested State Highways 20 and 1 especially for freight. So the answer lies in transit whether it be rail or bus.
Light rail from the City Centre is going nowhere despite what Auckland Transport and Mayor Phil Goff might think. It sits in the second decade of the Auckland Transport Alignment Accord and right now the Government is not budging in speeding it up.
As alternative NZTA and Auckland Transport did propose a bus way (or light rail) from Botany to Manukau then to Puhinui Station (forming a second interchange with the heavy rail network after Manukau) before heading out to the Airport.
You can see the indicative corridors below:
I have it on good knowledge that both Auckland Transport and NZTA have been given the hurry up to get the business study done as soon as possible to allow construction to start also ASAP.
That being a bus-way from Manukau to Puhinui to the Airport as the first stage of the Botany Line OR if so inclined they could whole-hog it and actually put rail down that corridor as Te Irirangi Drive and Manukau were designed to take rail.
The question is will Prime Minister English do his part in speeding up this leg of the Botany Line to the Airport to relieve the pressures getting to and from the Airport. Because the longer the jams continue and end up in the Herald the more the world will take a rather dim view on us as a tourist destination.
So then Auckland and it seems the Airport Line (Botany Line) could be very well the election issue that makes or breaks Prime Minister Bill English and his Government at the elections. Will English support the acceleration of the bus way from Manukau to the Airport given the Airport affects all 4.5 million New Zealanders one way or the other.