Light Rail At Wellington Airport Mooted


Wellington’s Infratil-owned airport company today raised the possibility of a light rail service between the airport and Wellington city.

It also is proposing creating a public transport hub adjacent to the airport terminal.
The company’s 2030 blueprint plan, released this weekend, caters for a wide choice of modes of transport to and from the airport including bus, cycle, pedestrian, taxi, private vehicle and shuttle, and has the flexibility to change if the modal mix changes.

CEO, Steve Fitzgerald, said this includes accommodating light rail, adding that it’s “unlikely to be introduced” during this plan’s timeframe i.e. before 2030

Airport Flyer bus leaving Wellington airport

It’s amazing how airport companies used to be obsessed about driving to the airport being the only way possible so that they reap in short-term and long-term parking charges.
Now they embrace public transport.

Last month, Auckland Airport’s company said that plans for a Rapid Transit Network link to the Airport, whether rail or some intermediate step, should be accelerated and ideally put in place prior to 2020.

And Auckland Airport called public transport connections to the Airport currently “weak by international comparisons and as a consequence patronage is low.”

Wellington’s CEO, Mr Fitzgerald, in unveiling his company’s long-term plans,  said that good airports need good access and the company will work with authorities and public transport providers to ensure the airport is well linked with the region.

Inside the Airport Flyer: Even has free Wi-Fi!

Inside Airport Flyer: Even has free Wi-Fi!

“Our small site poses a challenge in providing enough space for efficient vehicle access and parking. We support initiatives that promote public transport and we welcome the increasing patronage of the ‘Airport Flyer’ bus service.

“We’re also committed to accommodating cyclists, pedestrians and taxis, and providing car drivers with services such as premium short-stay, valet and long-term parking.”

The plan provides access for the existing mix of vehicles, but has the flexibility to change if the mix of travel modes to and from the airport changes.
Mr Fitzgerald also welcomed the Government’s recent announcement on the upgrading of SH1 Wellington Northern Corridor (Levin to Wellington Airport) as it recognised “the importance of roading links in enabling the region and the airport to grow to their potential.”

The company’s plan forecasts:

  • a doubling of annual passenger numbers, from five million to about 10.5 million in 2030, at an average growth rate of 3.4% per year
  • a forecast 10% increase in air movements, from 114,400 today to 126,100 in 2030. This was based on the arrival of larger, new-generation aircraft carrying more passengers and freight, and is below the movement numbers in the mid to late 1990s.
  • an increase in annual freight volumes from 5,000 tonnes to more than 28,000 tonnes.




  1. rtc says:

    It’s pathetic that Wellington only has bus access at present. Light rail has been mooted for years and always kicked back by central government or council. This plan won’t go any further and with Joyce funding a billion dollar urban highway to the airport instead, traffic and congestion to the airport will only get worse.

  2. James Pole says:

    Does WLG handle enough passengers to justify a light rail link?

    Personally I think the best strategy in the short/medium term for improving public transport usage to WLG airport is:-
    (a) Introducing a ~10min “first flight to last flight” bus service frequency between Airport and City.
    (b) Terminate the pointless extenstion of the airport route between Wellington and Upper Hutt. This is a obvious duplication of the existing bus and train services between Upper Hutt and Wellington. Instead passengers would take the train and transfer to the Airport Bus at Wellington Station. Transferring from rail to bus at the station would actually provide a quicker journey overall than a direct bus. And don’t mention the better utilisation and timekeeping of buses if it doesn’t have to travel all the way from Upper Hutt.
    (c) Increase price for car parking at the airport and possibly even introduce off-site parking options with connections to the airport bus service.

    Once there is enough pax using the buses, the numbers can be used to persuade the council/govt that light rail would actually be a good investment to carry the number of passengers that buses have been proven to carry.

    Or, why not just extend the electric wires of the existing trolley bus network? Surely that would be cheaper to achieve than a light rail option? I’m a bit bemused that light rail is being proposed in a city that already has a trolley network.

  3. Jeremy Harris says:

    How about light rail instead of the Basin flyover..? Nope makes too much sense…

  4. Kelvin says:

    I can’t see how it would be justified for an airport only handling 10m (in 2030) or how it would be built! The Geography of Welly is very tricky for such a scheme. Yes, agree with James above a more frequent bus is about all that’s required. Concentrate on a rail link to AKL instead.

  5. rtc says:

    I could ask why an elevated motorway is needed out to the airport whereas improved PT links don’t even get a look in.

  6. Mike says:

    Wellington being essentially a linear city, it’s ideally suited to rail passenger transport along the Council’s Growth Spine between Johnsonville and the airport, and the best way to do that is extending the rail system south from the railway station along the Golden Mile using tram-trains, as in Karlsruhe, Kassel, Saarbrucken, Chemnitz, New Jersey, Zwickau etc. Shorter suburban srevices, eg to Johnsonville, Porirua, Melling, Waterloo would be tram-trains through the CBD towards the airport, while longer-distance ones would continue to terminate at the railway station, but with enhanced interchange. A practical and economical solution!

  7. filosofos says:

    Who forgot that most airport passengers also have luggage? Tram-trains have the added advantage of level boarding, so you can wheel your suitcase on and not have to wheel it off until you get to the airport. Try doing that with a bus or trolley bus.


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