Last week I flew up to Auckland for a few meetings and steeled myself for the traffic nightmare I would face from the airport to the CBD.
But to my surprise my travels into the CBD and back to the airport the next day were as smooth as could be.
The reason - the Waterview Tunnel. If ever there's has been a game-changer for Auckland congestion, this is it.
Everyone in Auckland is talking about it and how much it has made things easier, especially on that airport-CBD route. It will certainly help make the city more accessible for tourists, as would a light rail connection as well.
Most major modern cities around the world have some sort of rail link between their airport and the centre of town so this would just be another step on the road to making Auckland a true international player. It is good to see that both our major political parties have such a link in their plans, even if it is many years away.
It just shows that it is important for the Bay to have roads and public transport that make everything more accessible. I reckon the Whakatu arterial link roundabout is going to do wonders for the Napier-Hastings route when it is fully up and running. The roadworks at Watchman Rd will also have a profound effect on traffic flows near the airport.
But it got me thinking about rail connections in Hawke's Bay. I reckon our councils should look into the feasibility of re-establishing a passenger rail service between Hastings and Napier using the existing line.
I am sure there would be many people who would use a regular service to commute to and from work, while it would be a great way of getting tourists between the two cities. It would be especially useful during cruise ship season.
There is no question that we need to be constantly looking at ways of making our region more tourist-friendly.