Airport drop and dash - or you'll pay cash
Do you think five minutes is long enough to drop people at the airport?
Wellington Airport says five-minutes is more than enough time for dropping off passengers.
It is answering criticism over moves to install barriers and impose time allowances to reduce traffic congestion at the airport.
The airport intends to install 19 barrier arms at either end of Stewart Duff Dr as part of a $5 million revamp that will create a new drop-off route designed to get rid of unwanted through traffic.
Motorists dropping off friends or relatives at Wellington Airport will have to take a ticket from a barrier and get out again within five minutes or they will be charged for overstaying.
A Wellington Airport spokesman said today that the airport had so far only received a "couple of emails'' from people not happy with the news.
He said provisions would be made for disabled people who might need more time but the five-minute time allowance would be more than enough for most.
The airport wanted to stress that the plan was to reduce traffic congestion in and around the airport and was a necessary move.
It estimates that almost a third of the 23,000 vehicles that drive in and out of the airport each day are locals using the airport road as a short cut between Lyall Bay and the eastern suburbs.
"We are a busy airport on a compact site close to the city and it's vital that the airport's roads are used for their intended purpose – to make it quick, easy and safe for passengers and visitors to enter and leave the airport," chief operating officer John Howarth said yesterday.
A new ramp will be built at the northern entrance to the airport with two lanes feeding the drop-off zone in front of the terminal. A separate taxi-only lane will also be built.
Stewart Duff Dr beyond the new drop-off ramp will merge with the ground-level car park and become a slow zone in a further measure to discourage through traffic.
Mr Howarth said people would still be able to use the road as a free through route, so long as they could get in and out within the five-minute grace period.
Anyone staying longer than five minutes would be charged at the present parking rates – $3 for 14 minutes overtime and $5 for up to 30 minutes.
The new design will not affect the route of the Airport Flyer, which will get a bus-only, barrier-free lane.
A free parking deal will also be ironed out with the Miramar Golf Club, whose entrance and car park is inside the barrier zone.
Mr Howarth said the airport had the highest number of passengers per square metre in Australasia, and numbers were expected to double to 10 million a year by 2030.
Compared with its Auckland and Christchurch counterparts, Wellington's 110-hectare airport was "postage-stamp sized" and its roads needed to be dedicated to airport traffic.
Rongotai resident and Eastern ward city councillor Leonie Gill said she was unsure whether the airport "was going to achieve what they're trying to achieve".
Merging Stewart Duff Dr with the ground level car parks was "draconian" because people in Miramar, Seatoun and Strathmore used the road to get to the shops in Lyall Bay and would probably continue to do so.
However, Mr Howarth said the difference in travel time by going from Miramar Peninsula to the south coast via Rongotai, rather than through the airport, was "negligible" and there would be no difference for trips between the south coast and Evans Bay Parade.
Construction of the new route is due to start next month and be finished by the end of the year.
FIVE MINUTES? MAKE IT 10
You'd have to be a "miracle worker" to get a ticket from one barrier, park, drop off your passengers, and get to the barrier at the other end in under five minutes, Christchurch visitor Bruce Milne reckoned when asked about the airport changes last night.
"If they do that sort of treatment, 10 minutes would be better." Nathan Light, travelling with Mr Milne, said five minutes would be reasonable "if you have bugger-all luggage".
Wellington man Kelvin Ratnam said the changes were more about revenue-gathering than fixing congestion, which was rarely a problem at the airport.
But Napier student Joseph Corbett-Davies said the five-minute system seemed "pretty good" and was comparable to other airports he had visited.
When The Dominion Post time-tested the existing road at posted speed limits about 5.30pm yesterday, the round trip – including a 30-second dropoff – took 2min 55sec from where the northern barrier arm would be, and 1 min 1 sec from the proposed site of the southern barrier arm.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Do you always wear a helmet while cycling?Related story: Cyclists creative on cycle helmet waivers