Wellington Scoop

Hutt politicians join forces to fight for bus to airport

Press Release – Hutt City Council
Lower Hutt Mayor Campbell Barry, City Councillor Deborah Hislop and MPs Ginny Andersen and Chris Bishop have joined together to lead the Fight for the Flyer Campaign – encouraging people to submit to the Regional Council to ensure the airport bus service is returned to Lower Hutt.

The Regional Council is currently consulting on its Regional Public Transport Plan. This includes a proposal to introduce a public bus service by 2022 between Wellington Station and Wellington Airport, but to axe the Lower Hutt service.

The Fight for the Flyer campaign encourages people to make a submission to the Regional Council to support reinstating an airport bus service between Lower Hutt and the airport. Submissions can be made at hutt.city/airportflyer or by visiting any library or community hub in Lower Hutt.

Lower Hutt Mayor Campbell Barry says the Regional Council’s preference is shortsighted, and is a backward step for the region.

“Our city and region is growing, and our public transport networks need to support that. People need a range of high quality public transport options, which should include a bus service between the Lower Hutt and Wellington Airport,” Campbell Barry says.

“The previous Airport Flyer service had been in place for 20 years, and that should have been the starting point for a future service. Instead, it’s possible the Hutt may be completely left off the map.”

Councillor Deborah Hislop, who chairs Hutt City Council’s Infrastructure and Regulatory Committee, says submitting on the Regional Public Transport Plan provides an opportunity to bring the airport service back.

“I encourage the people of Lower Hutt to join this campaign, and let the Regional Council know that our city needs a direct bus service to Wellington Airport,” Deborah Hislop says.

The Fight for the Flyer campaign is strongly supported by Hutt South MP Ginny Andersen, and List MP based in Hutt South Chris Bishop.

“We have successfully fought for this service before, and we are again asking people across Lower Hutt to join this campaign to make their voices heard, and let the Regional Council know how important this service is for us,” Ginny Andersen says.

“We need to make sure the Regional Public Transport Plan serves people in Lower Hutt, not just those in Wellington City. Our residents are regional ratepayers, and not reinstating this service is frankly insulting for our city,” Chris Bishop says.

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  1. Dave B, 19. February 2021, 13:48

    While I can appreciate the desire of Lower Hutt residents to have a direct bus-connection to Wellington Airport (and even Upper Hutt residents, as I seem to remember the Airport Flyer at one time went there also), one has to ask, what about the many other areas that would also like a direct airport-connection? Kapiti, Porirua and Johnsonville for instance have never enjoyed such a connection and airport-travellers from these areas have always been forced to change. As a result most have traditionally not bothered to use public transport and have simply added to the pressure of car-congestion on the route.

    The demand of Lower Hutt-ites for a restoration of the direct connection they once enjoyed raises the whole question of our existing spinal public-transport system being too fractured as it is, and the need to provide better connectivity for everyone. The rail system terminating where it does is simply not helpful for journeys further on.

    As we seem to be on the cusp of some potentially major decisions about mass rapid transit, let us pause to consider the massive advantages that would accrue through extending the metro system that we already have, and not rush to sink money into a shiny new system that simply perpetuates the spinal fracture.

  2. Julienz, 20. February 2021, 0:16

    @Dave B and Ross Clark – Absolutely agree. The problems of fractured services providing poor access for many in the region to the Airport apply equally to access to the region’s hospitals and for people in the satellite cities travelling to the universities in Wellington City. As with the airport demand, the need is outside the traditional peaks – staff who work shifts, outpatients whose appointments can be any time of day, students whose lectures and tutorials are spread throughout the day. We need a total rethink if we want to get people out of cars for trips other than travel to work in the CBD. Timaru, admittedly a far smaller place with flat terrain, has been trialling hailable bus services with some success, maybe that could be explored especially to improve off peak and cross city access to public transport.

  3. Ross Clark, 20. February 2021, 1:16

    @DaveB – agreed. Because a lot of airport demand is outside the traditional bus & train peaks, there seems to me to be scope for more use of direct bus services to get over the problems of the spinal fracture, as you call it. These would be shorter-term fixes, but they can be put in place now. Also, a direct bus between the Lower Hutt and the Wellington CBDs has much to commend it anyway.

  4. luke, 21. February 2021, 12:02

    Can’t see why Lower Hutt is any different to Newlands or Karori or anywhere else which doesn’t have direct airport buses. Buses competing with parallel public transport are counterproductive. Better rail services AND better Wellington to Airport buses would be a better outcome.

  5. Wayne, 22. February 2021, 13:05

    I drove the Airport flyer from Lower Hutt to the Airport for 6 years. In reality not very many people traveled Hutt to Airport, it was more gold card to city. Maybe we just need another direct service to the city between 0900hrs & 1500hrs.

  6. Mike Mellor, 23. February 2021, 16:29

    The key link to/from the airport has to be with the centre of the region’s public transport network, Wellington Station. Other airport links may be desirable, but are not essential.

    That link has to be reliable, and the longer the route the less reliable it is likely to be. We’ve seen in recent weeks SH2 being disrupted – if there had been a Hutt Flyer operating at the time that would have meant disrupted journeys to/from the airport, nowhere near SH2.

    There are two ways round this: make the part of the route beyond the station more reliable, or provide connections with such a route. I think bus priority along SH2 is unlikely to happen, but there’s a parallel service along there that’s unaffected by road congestion – the railway line. The problem with that is that the transfer at the station is awkward, non-intuitive and, in the absence of free train/bus transfers, costs money. Added to that, the sparse confusing bus departure information at the station is in stark contrast to the excellent recently upgraded train information.

    So a first step should be to make the station transfer less of an obstacle, which would benefit all transferring passengers, not just airport ones. Free train/bus transfers are being developed, improved bus information wouldn’t be that hard (it doesn’t need an upgrade to RTI, which has been quoted as an obstacle), and in the past some buses have started from the station forecourt, an obvious intuitive location

    I hope GWRC, its LGWM partners and KiwiRail have got this bottleneck firmly in their sights.

  7. Keith Flinders, 23. February 2021, 18:06

    Just how many people used the bus service to the airport when it was available? There seems to be fixation on having light rail to the airport, but again how many would use it? Certainly there is merit in having light rail to Miramar, especially as the planned housing redevelopment in that area will make better use of the land available and increase the population density.

    Getting light rail to the airport terminal will be an expensive option, with, ideally, grade separation between it and State Highway 1. An overhead or underground travellator from the junction of Broadway and Hobart would cater for bus users now, and light rail users if that system ever eventuates. Drilling a tunnel under an operating airport runway from Kilbirnie seems an impractical alternative.

  8. Mike Mellor, 23. February 2021, 20:45

    Keith F: if the light rail route on its way to Miramar is to the south of SH1 round the northern end of the airport runway, just one crossing of SH1, at the Cobham Drive/Calabar Rd intersection, will be required; and it looks as if the preferred route along Hobart St could continue across Broadway past (or through!) the Burger King “drive-thru” to reach the airport terminal.

    Driving a tunnel under the airport runway could indeed be a challenge, as probably would be the length of ramp required (at least on the western side) to reach a depth that would minimise any effects on airport operations.

  9. Dave B, 23. February 2021, 21:10

    @ Mike Mellor: Best to have the Southern CBD – Eastern Suburbs – Airport express bus starting from Platform 9 of the railway station, along with some bus-priority measures to get buses out onto Waterloo Quay. If this service is to meaningfully connect with trains then there will be a bus every few minutes during peak hours. This will be too dominating for the station forecourt which needs to give pedestrians priority.

    @ Keith Flinders: The former Airport Flyer effectively priced itself out of high-patronage and it failed to connect meaningfully with trains. Its market-share of all airport-bound passengers would have been extremely low, compared to private cars and taxis which carry the lion’s share of airport patronage (as evidenced by the huge amount of parking provided for both). In pre-covid days there would have been major scope for a quality airport PT service to eat into car and taxi mode-share, though perhaps less-so currently with air-travel suppressed. Wellington airport remains a significant node which requires a connection to the regional rapid-transit system. Ideally Miramar should be connected also, for the reasons you outline. But for this connection to be “rapid”, it needs to have an exclusive and protected right-of-way, just like the existing rapid-transit system (the railway). Light rail running in the public street will be slow, just like the Airport Flyer bus was (some services were timetabled at 40min City-Airport).


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