Airport to Botany (A2B) Rapid Transit (Light Rail): Via Wiri or via Puhinui. A Comparison

Which option is best? Depends on what you want to achieve 

Over on the Campaign for Better Transport Facebook page someone posted an alternative route for light rail for the Airport to Botany (A2B) – Airport to Manukau leg. The alternative route is very similar to my original then Botany Line light rail route I drew up a couple of years ago (okay it was back in 2013). 

This was my original A2B route from the Airport to Manukau and similar to the one on CBT):

The route I have chosen today reflecting changes to the environments as of 2018:

In reflection of both proposed routes while I can understand the original route I proposed in 2013 it was on the provision of two other factors needing to happen:

  1. It assumed heavy rail would go to the Airport from Otahuhu
  2. The Manukau South Link allowing direct services from Papakura to Manukau Station would be built (it can not due Port of Auckland’s Wiri Inland port in the way)
Airport Line overall Black = heavy rail (dashed means proposed) Yellow = Botany Line (LRT) Green = feeder local busses in South West area Blue = North Shore Line Cyan = Proposed Dominion Road LRT.

The via Puhinui route allows for better Urban Geographic outcomes through urban development along the corridor particularly Puhinui Road and Lambie Drive.

The Southern Airport Line 2018 – Airport to Manukau via Puhinui Station

None-the-less the advantages (or rather very little advantages) of A2B going through paddocks and down Cavendish Drive with an interchange at Wiri:

  1. LRT goes down Cavendish Drive which is Auckland Transport’s preferred route which they state allows that area to undergo urban renewal (we will let Panuku decide that not AT)
  2. A disadvantage: If LRT does not intersect with the Manukau Station on Manukau Station Road then transfer opportunities are lost between: Light Rail, Heavy Rail, and busses. Again in this instance A2B in this part of Manukau is not about urban regeneration (let Panuku handle this anyway) but connectivity via the transfer (something AT should already be aware of)
  3. Another disadvantage is an interchange at Wiri would interfere with Depot and Port operations. Cavendish Drive and its urban renewal opportunities are handled through other means described further down
Airport Line through Manukau Source:
Southern Airport Line LRT Source:

The advantages of A2B following Puhinui Road and Lambie Drive:

  1. The stops along Puhinui Road be capture the Puhinui Gateway (a new light industrial complex being developed along State Highway 20B)
  2. The corridor allows for 3-storey walk up terraced housing and apartments in the residential area of Puhinui Road. This allows for intensification that does not conflict with the Airport flight path
  3. Lambie Drive between Cavendish Drive and Puhinui Road is zoned Light Industry even though industry has long left the area for commercial or churches. Airport to Botany would encourage a zone change to Mixed Use (residential and commercial) to better support the Manukau Metropolitan Centre zoning to the south. 
  4. Stations on Lambie Drive would also encourage residential development to the west of the Manukau Metropolitan Centre area particularly the Supa Centre in which its owner wanted their site Metro Centre so they could develop their existing site with apartments

Airport to Botany would continue to run along Manukau Station Road to meet up with Manukau Station as well as the Great South Road before arcing right and heading to Botany via Te Irirangi Drive. 

The Southern Airport Line 2018 – Manukau to Botany
The Southern Airport Line through Manukau City Centre. Black – Heavy Rail, Blue = busses, Grey = possible LLRT route

Unlike Auckland Transport who prefer LRT down Cavendish Drive (mentioned above) I do not as we miss the opportunities to redevelop Puhinui Road and the northern end of Lambie Drive. However, to satisify Auckland Transport with Cavendish Drive we borrow their concept with the Manukau to Botany in having north-south bus connections with the Light Rail route:

Airport and bus line up Source:

You would run feeder busses down the following roads to meet with the A2B LRT:

  • Entire length of Plunket Avenue with the feeder bus continuing for a short distance down Wiri Station Road to Kerrs Road and onto Homai Interchange that is off Dalgety Drive (I note the existing 368, 369 and 313 run through those roads so that means a very easy reroute rather than new services entirely)
  • From Wiri perhaps a bit of a tidy up of the existing 368 and 369 Wiri Industrial Loops (so they run all day) as well as a new Rapid Transit route from Manurewa Station down the Great South Road to Mahia Road, down Roscommon Road and linking up with the 369 and 368 on Cavendish Drive. The route would then go up Plunket Avenue before rejoining the LRT route on Puhinui Road and finally taking a turn onto Wallace Road to meet up with the Trains at Papatoetoe Station
  • Given the 380 would be replaced, a separate service from Papatoetoe Station to Manukau via St George Street and Carruth Road would be needed as well (which would also form as a back up bus if LRT was to fail in that section)

The Puhinui Station site for where Airport to Botany intersects our existing heavy rail also became ideal for transfers between the A2B line, the Southern Line, Eastern Line and later inter-city rail without interfering of other rail options at Wiri. 

And yes this is all on the assumption the Third and Fourth Mains are built to Papakura. 

Puhinui Interchange with the tracks
Puhinui Interchange

Ideas evolve over time. While I have pushed for Light Rail from Airport to Botany back from 2013 the route selection has evolved to capture environment and urban development opportunity changes. But in the end all roads to lead to the same:

Airport to Botany: Light Rail (not bus ways)!

One thought on “Airport to Botany (A2B) Rapid Transit (Light Rail): Via Wiri or via Puhinui. A Comparison

  1. The disadvantage with the station link at Manukau, is that no trains from the South stop there.
    If you use Manukau station as the link, you have an Auckland centric service option and no other.
    Future proofing would suggest Puhinui station as the cross over of the HR North South and LR East West services.
    I agree multi tracking from Pukekohe to at least Wiri.

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