A $69 million transport hub in Papatoetoe, which promises more reliable travel times to Auckland Airport, was unveiled this morning after months of delays.
Hundreds of locals, transport enthusiasts and officials alike flocked to the upgraded Puhinui Interchange for its open day today. It features new escalators, stairs and lifts, drop-off zones, parking bays, larger train platform shelters and improved lighting and CCTV.
It’s hoped the bus and rail interchange will provide better transport links to Auckland Airport, which would become “faster, more frequent, and easier” through the electric AirportLink bus fleet .
The station’s opening, however, wasn’t accompanied by trains — rail network upgrades were scheduled for this weekend, with buses replacing the entire Eastern Line and Southern Lines. Bus and rail services will begin at the station from Monday.
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said the interchange was “symbolic” of the world-class public transport system Auckland had been calling for.
“We’re getting back to that stage where the railway station is something really important in our community because rail is coming back,” he told the crowd today.
With continued improvements to the city’s public transport network, motorists would continue to realise driving may not be the most efficient way to travel anymore, Goff added.
The Puhinui Interchange was meant to be completed by early 2021. But this was delayed because of the Covid-19 lockdowns and ongoing maintenance work of Auckland’s rail network .
Transport Minister Michael Wood said opening the interchange today was about “getting on with the job” after decades of “inadequate” investment in Auckland’s transport infrastructure.
“Sites like this which bring road and rail together at a critical point in South Auckland — this is what it’s all about, giving people real transport choices to get around the city. And, in particular with this site, the ability within 10 to 12 minutes to get into the airport, congestion-free, on an electric bus,” Wood said.
He said improved transport options would also help South Auckland’s economic recovery from the pandemic, with more than 900 businesses based around the airport.
“We need to get over this methodology that New Zealanders won’t take public transport. There’s not some genetic disposition there that makes us different from people in other cities where public transport is taken at high levels.
“It’s about providing the infrastructure that works for people. When we do that … people use it,” Wood said.
The station has been closed for construction since September 2019.
In July last year, Auckland Council received a $47 million boost from the Government’s shovel-ready infrastructure fund for the Puhinui Station Interchange construction. It came within days after the council finalised its 2020/2021 post-pandemic “emergency budget”.
The project also received funds from Waka Kotahi NZTA, Auckland Council, the regional fuel tax and the Government’s Covid-19 response fund.
The AirportLink bus fleet and upgrades to Puhinui Station is part of the Airport to Botany Rapid Transit project.