The rational way of dealing with any problem is to examine the evidence and decide whether or not a problem exists. Having done that, look at all the options and decide which one solves the problem at the lowest possible cost. To my knowledge, nobody has yet done this. All they have done is seize upon rail as a solution to a problem that, it seems, no one has ever examined.
Is there really a problem? A rational answer would be that traffic congestion will steadily increase and will need to be dealt with at some stage. So we need a long term solution that will provide transport without increasing congestion.
The next step it is to look at what travellers need in the way of transport. Common sense tells us that any traveller arriving from a long flight with luggage will be looking for door-to-door transport. Not for them lugging their luggage onto a train, then off a train into a bus or taxi or whatever. So door to door transport will be a very high priority. Cost will also be a consideration.
So what we have got? Cars, taxis, Uber, and airport shuttles all provide door-to-door transport at a range of costs. Airport buses provide a similar service to those who happen to be on or close to the bus route – Dominion Road or Mount Eden Road to the central city leaving every 10 minutes. They probably carry between 250 and 500 passengers per hour in each direction. 500 passengers need 6 carriages. Equivalent to one single carriage train every 10 minutes or one standard six car train every hour!
The airport shuttles cost about the same as a bus but offer door-to-door service. So they cover the whole of Auckland. They can be hailed by smartphone, are GPS monitored and a computer optimises the routing so that shuttle routes do not overlap.
Clearly, shuttles are the ideal solution. What more do we need? It is a question that must be answered before anyone contemplates spending billions of dollars and many years building heavy or light rail to the airport. What can rail provide that is not already provided by existing transport? The answer, it seems, is absolutely nothing. It would be a giant step backwards.
Rail will require funding from taxpayers, ratepayers and motorists. As with the existing rail and bus services, the fares will go nowhere near to covering the operating costs – let alone the capital costs. The subsidies they need will be a major burden on the citizens of Auckland for the foreseeable future. The only thing they will do is rob passengers from the existing and cheaper bus services.
Light rail will massively increase congestion on Dominion Road – which will often delay the trams – and heavy rail will make little difference to the majority of passengers who need transport to the rest of Auckland.
Of the many stupid and expensive proposals that ignorant politicians have dreamed up during the election, rail to the airport has got to be very high on the list.