Graeme Hunt reports in the Herald on the need for a dedicated link between the CBD and Auckland Airport.  Unfortunately the focus is once again on completing the roading network.  We are told that rail is enormously expensive and that Auckland Airport has ruled it out in the short to medium term.

A dedicated transport link between Auckland airport and the commercial business district is essential to lift the region’s tourism standing, Tourism Auckland CEO Graeme Osborne says. “My sense is that we are not any closer to that thing materialising. According some greater priority to an airport-CBD link is pretty important.”

Osborne says cities like Dublin and Beijing have invested heavily in dedicated CBD-airport links.

“The trip from the airport to the CBD is absolutely essential to create a positive first impression.”

He says with 1.8 million people coming through Auckland Airport every year – about 70 per cent of international arrivals and departures – an airport-CBD link cannot be left to chance.

“I think the cycleway is a successful new product innovation but I think the house has got to be in order as well. The airport-CBD link is on the list and we have to keep pushing for it.”

The case for investing in visitor infrastructure is strong and extends to better waterfront transport links and improved parking for campervans.

Osborne says the best option for an airport-CBD link is rail but concedes that Dublin and Beijing have successful road links.

But rail has all been ruled out in the short to medium term by Auckland International Airport Ltd. Former chief executive Don Huse told the New Zealand Herald in 2007 the long-term solution for surface access to the airport is public transport, including a rail link to the city, but said completing road networks should come first.

“The capital cost of putting rail in place is enormously expensive. The rolling stock is enormously expensive and running the service is enormously expensive,” he said then.

“We are somewhat sanguine about rail.”

A airport company spokesman said this month the company remained committed to more efficient travel between the CBD and the airport and supported proposals such as “clear routes” to make bus and car travel quicker.

Work is under way on widening Mangere Bridge and its approaches and the long-planned western ring road now extends to Mt Roskill.

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