INDEPENDENT NEWS

Metlink Airport Service Waiting In The Wings

Published: Tue 9 Feb 2021 02:02 PM
Greater Wellington councilors will consider a proposal for a Metlink service from Wellington Station to Wellington Airport when its Transport Committee meets this Thursday, 11 February.
Until now, the Airport Flyer, a commercial contract arrangement between Wellington International Airport and NZ Bus, has prevented Metlink from putting its own services forward.
With NZ Bus ending its Airport Flyer service in November 2020 the region’s public transport users have been left with no direct access to the airport, something that Scott Gallacher, General Manager for Metlink hopes to change with his proposal.
“We’ve put a really strong case forward for a Metlink provided service. As the proposal stands we can ensure Metlink ticketing and fares, payment options such as Snapper, and Real Time Information are available to passengers wanting to reach the airport.
“We can also ensure that the service is integrated into the wider public transport network, enabling us to provide continuous services when responding to challenges such as COVID-19 and taking advantage of rail and bus connections to ensure the whole of the region can make use of the service.
“With a new service part of the overall Metlink network we’ll be able to see passenger journey data, exactly who is connecting to the service and from which parts of our region. This will help us make adjustments to parts of the network and target our resources better to meet demand from our communities,” says Scott Gallacher.
The proposal is welcomed by Andy Foster Mayor of Wellington who says he’s delighted to be part of the ongoing multi-party conversations about a new airport bus service.
“A quarter of all eastern suburbs traffic comes from the airport so having a bus service back in place and fewer private vehicles on the road will help ease congestion and meet our climate change obligations. Wellingtonians will tell you that a successful service needs to be frequent, well priced, and at a place people can easily catch it.
Roger Blakeley, Chair of Greater Wellington’s Transport Committee, welcomes debate on a solution that provides access for the whole region, as well as affordability and value for money for public transport users.
“We want to make sure that any new service is a success from the start and that means seamless integration with the rest of the network giving thousands of people across the region the ability to connect to this service,” says Cr Blakeley.
MP for Rongotai Paul Eagle says a return on the cards is great news for Wellington communities.
“The airport is a key destination for many people so being able to get there from anywhere in the region makes sense to me. I look forward to a service that is well integrated and has all the latest payment and tracking features which were sorely missing from the service before it was halted. More importantly any new service needs to be well priced so it doesn’t hit people in the pocket,” says Paul Eagle.
If the proposal is successful at Thursday’s Transport Committee the public would get its say as part of the draft Wellington Regional Public Transport Plan 2021-31 which is due for consultation from 15 February to 19 March.
Following consultation Metlink would then work with communities in the Hutt Valley and Porirua, as well as all other parts of Greater Wellington, to ensure that regional connectivity is maintained and enhanced before the service takes flight.
ENDSNote to editors: Background to airport bus servicesThe original airport service commenced operating in 1999 as the ‘Stagecoach Flyer’ between Lower Hutt and Wellington Airport.The route was extended in 2003 to run between Upper Hutt and Wellington Airport.In 2013 (by this date operating as ‘Airport Flyer’), the service reverted back to running between Lower Hutt and Wellington Airport.In July 2020, the service was reduced to run between Wellington Station and the Airport half-hourly on weekdays only – this was due to a reduction in airport visitor numbers resulting from COVID-19.The Airport Flyer service operated by NZ Bus was deemed to be an exempt service by the Land Transport Management Act 2003.Greater Wellington received notification from NZ Bus of a proposal to withdraw the Airport Flyer service (trading as the Valley Flyer) on the 9 November 2020, as per the notification period required in the Land Transport Management Act 2003.Greater Wellington confirmed the de-registration of the service on 10 November 2020 and the service subsequently ceased operating on 28 November 2020.

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