Thursday, 13 March 2008

Auckland City Council retains Airport, rejects Rail

Auckland City Councillors have voted against selling the council's 12.75% shareholding in Auckland International Airport, and have also voted to reject the Canadian Pension Plan's restructuring proposal.

Nearby Manukau City Council has also rejected the deal, but infrastructure investment company Infratil has supported the partial takeover bid, after the pension fund announced it would restrict its voting rights to 24.9%.

Auckland Mayor John Banks says the council doesn't see any advantages in supporting the proposal. However he expects the council to be a "more proactive shareholder", and is calling for the board of AIA to "substantially lift their game".

There was a 45 minute disruption during last night's meeting, when veteran nutter protester Penny Bright and former Mayoral candidate Lisa Prager refused to leave the council chambers during the discussion of "confidential matters".

Meanwhile, John Banks has dismissed calls by over 10,000 Aucklanders for a rail link between the city and the airport. Bizarrely Mayor Banks has rejected the idea as "25 years too early"!?!? "I'm not in the business of bouncing dead cats," he said.

A petition signed by 10,431 people has won support from some on the Auckland Regional Council, with chairman Mike Lee correctly noting "Until there is a rail link from the airport to the central business district, Auckland will not be an international-class city."

NZ Herald graphic showing proposed Auckland rail links

Banks has got more than a few screws loose if he seriously thinks the idea of a rail link to Auckland airport is "too early"... If anything, it's already about 30 years overdue!

While many Aucklanders may try to convince themselves otherwise, the lack of decent rail services will confine Auckland to "also-ran" status in world terms. Regular commuter rail services are an integral part of most growing major cities in the world.

Auckland councils should be backing and supporting new and improved rail links, including investigating working with private enterprise on the urgent need for rail services between the airport and Auckland's CBD (see Heathrow Express, Stansted Express, Gatwick Express, etc)...

I know there are arguments that the economics of rail don't stack up in Auckland, but as the city's population continues to grow there must come a time when some forward-thinking people can come up with a way of making it work?

Part of the problem is that the driving habits of Aucklanders have become so ingrained over many many years. Try living in a proper major international city for a year and see how rail can work. Auckland is ghetto... all the problems of a major city, very few of the benefits.

* NZ Herald: Pressure grows for trains from airport to downtown

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  1. Aaron Bhatnagar Says:

    Dave, I'm on the transport committee and we are in favour of progressing a rail link from Britomart through to the Airport via Onehunga. In fact, last week, we had the CEO of AIAL come and see us to tell us about improving City-Airport travel links, including future rail.

    There are a number of Airport rail proposals being suggested, so Banks may have been commenting on a specific "Campaign for Better Transport" proposal which includes significant Airport-Manukau City links yet to be explored or planned heading out east into Wiri and beyond. Banks, as far as I know, supports the Onehunga branch line re-opening, because the corridor already exists.

    It may well be that the article you were referring to did not make that distinction, which would be unfortunate.