Sunday, September 12, 2010

Take me to the airport ... by car

Brisbane's privately owned, and overpriced Airport Line opened in 2001. Whilst some trains to the airport can have a reasonable loading, the service is under-utilised (approx. 2m passengers a year), infrequent, and non-existent after 8pm. It is thus no surprise that the roads to the airport are congested, requiring massive construction projects for the Airport Link tunnel, and the Airport Roundabout Flyover. Why is the Airport Line under-utilised? Well for a start the frequency is abysmal - trains every 30 minutes off-peak. For passengers whose destinations are not on the Airport/Gold Coast Line, they would have to change trains in the CBD, with a potential wait of up to another 30 minutes for the connecting train. So you could waste nearly 1 hour in waiting time just getting home from the airport if you have to change trains! Then there is the totally backwards lack of trains after 8pm, so anyone leaving the car at home for a morning flight out, will have a bit of a problem when they arrive back at 8pm. Given the unreliability of low cost flights, you cannot even assume a 6:30pm arrival will result in you making the train home.  So if you don't want to be stranded after a flight delay, you will need a car. Finally, the overpriced fares do not exactly encourage people to take the train to the airport. 

Lets look at train frequencies to other airports in the world, to see how poorly Brisbane compares:
(Frequencies are weekday midday frequencies to CBD from Airport)

Brisbane - 2tph*
Sydney - 6tph*
London Heathrow (T123) - 18tph (12tph London Underground, 4tph Heathrow Express, 2tph Heathrow Connect)
London Gatwick - 11tph
London City - 8tph
Berlin Schonefeld - 6tph
Madrid Barajas - 8tph
Hong Kong - 5tph*
Paris CDG - 8tph
Tokyo Narita - 12tph (via 2 train companies)
Tokyo Haneda - 16tph (via 2 train companies)
Nurenberg - 9tph (much more frequent service, and 1/4 the population of Brisbane)
Hamburg - 6tph
Newcastle (UK) - 5tph (x2.5 more frequent service, and less than half the population of Brisbane)
Vancouver - 6tph
Copenhagen - 8tph
Dubai - 8tph
Bangkok - 6tph (a better airport train service than Brisbane in a third-world country!)
Naha - 6tph (Naha has just 1/6 of the population of Brisbane)
Oslo - 6tph (x2.5 more passengers, despite half the population)
Lyon - 4tph

*only direct rail option is with overpriced fares

As you can see, the Airport Line is yet another example of Brisbane's public transport being backwards. Why build a $220 rail line, to then run an infrequent service along it? Who decided that trains should stop at 8pm? Why do many lesser populated cities have a more frequent airport train service? Why do Brisbanites have to put up with such pathetic public transport? Despite being keen on public transport, BrizCommuter is glad he can easily get a lift to Brisbane airport by car!

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