We are doing the Airport Lines All Wrong. Start from the Airport not from the City Centres

Quick wins for the Minister


We know last weekend Transport Minister Phil Twyford effectively signalled the Northern and Southern Airport Lines will start in the first term of this Government (see: Regional Rapid Rail and The Southern Airport Line a (virtual) GO!). What was not said is how the Lines should be exactly built.


Conventional wisdom for the Northern Airport Line (City Centre to Airport via Dominion Road) is that you start building the Light Rail line from Queen Street and take it up Dominion Road before pausing then carrying on to Onehunga, Mangere and the Airport. The estimated time frame to fully complete the Northern Airport Line according to the draft Auckland Plan 2050 is 20 years although I believe Twyford wants it done in ten.

For the Southern Airport Line its construction would start at the Airport and head down State Highway 20B to Puhinui Station then Manukau City Centre as stage two (stage 1 is some interim shoulder bus lanes while the Line is built in tandem with SH20B being widened) before carrying on to Botany and later Howick soon after.

Public transport RTN Proposal AP2050
Source: Auckland Plan


If we follow the above conventional wisdom for both Airport Lines then Papakura, Otara, Howick, Manurewa and anyone who can access the Southern, Eastern or Regional Rapid inter city rail Lines can get on the Southern Airport Line to reach the airport (whether it be travel or work) within five of so years but Mangere has to wait for at least ten years for their Rapid Transit Network connection that is the Northern Airport Line to reach their place.

Another way to put it is that one of Auckland’s most socially deprived but culturally rich areas – Mangere miss out on the Rapid Transit Network gold rush. To me that utterly stinks and needs to be addressed? How? Let’s rejig the way we build the Airport Lines.


How to Build an Airport Line

From the NZ Herald:

Simon Wilson: 10 pieces of nonsense they’re talking about transport

8. Light rail to the airport is the number one priority.
Transport minister Phil Twyford has announced this. But should it be? Light rail to the airport was an election talking point and it makes for a good headline. But the part of Auckland in most desperate need of good public transport is the east. Rapid transit is proposed to link the airport to Puhinui and Manukau, and then Flat Bush, Botany and Howick. It will be a busway like the Northern Busway, to start. Twyford lists that project as number two, but he needs to ensure it gets an early start.

quote context: http://pllqt.it/e4L2lj


The Southern Airport Line from the Airport to Manukau then Botany continues as already mentioned: shoulder bus lanes then bus or light rail rapid transit as SH20B is widened. This would start first rather than the Northern Airport Line and it would start this Summer! The Northern Airport Line is where I change the construction program. Rather than start at Queen Street start like the Southern Airport Line at the Airport (the two Lines converge there anyway) and have the first stage go to Onehunga Rail Station.

Airport to Onehunga Rail Station via Mangere Town Centre would give two immediate benefits:

  1. An interim Northern Airport Line using the existing Onehunga Line and the first section of the Northern Airport Line until the Dominion Road-Queen Street section is finished
  2. Mangere is finally linked up to the Rapid Transit Network allowing the residents to access the Airport, Onehunga industrial or City Centre employment centres. The 32 Sylvia Park, Otahuhu Interchange, Mangere Town Centre bus route is your cross-connector between two RTN lines (Northern Airport Line and the Southern and Eastern Lines).

Mangere gets to benefit from this method of building the Northern Airport Line what Otara, Papatoetoe and Papakura would enjoy from their Southern Airport Line – all of South Auckland linked up by RTN to places of employment and culture.


So to Minister Twyford: get the Southern Airport Line started this year please as a sense of absolute urgency. But also let’s go outside the box with the Northern Airport Line and build it in reverse starting at the Airport and going to Onehunga allowing Mangere to be linked up. To have Mangere wait at least a decade for a connection to the Rapid Transit Network seems rather unfair when their South Auckland siblings will be connected up within five years at least.!


As it was said: #letsdothis


Light Rail to Airport and Manukau
Source: Auckland Transport and NZTA



One thought on “We are doing the Airport Lines All Wrong. Start from the Airport not from the City Centres

  1. Building from the Airport to Onehunga makes a lot of sense.
    Building the two lines outward from the airport simultaneously would connect South Auckland to the Mangere area and would have enormous benefits.

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