Transport Minister Phil Twyford says by 2030, Aucklanders will "absolutely" be able to take a train from the CBD to the airport.
"In 10 years' time, our kids won't have to own a car to live and work in this city - that's not science fiction," Twyford told The AM Show on Wednesday morning.
His comments come after Auckland was ranked just 94th in the world as a place to raise a family.
The ranking was given by Movinga, a German-based relocation company, which scored 145 cities around the world based on housing, education, employment, transport and safety.
Auckland's poor rating was due mostly to poor transport and high housing costs.
Christchurch came in at 52nd while Wellington was ranked 38. The top-ranked city was Helsinki, in Finland.
"It's a very real problem that this report highlights," Twyford told The AM Show on Wednesday.
"Housing and transport costs have taken $10,000 out of the discretionary income of the average household. At a time of sustained economic growth, we've gone backwards, and that's because of housing and transport."
Despite acknowledging the city faced transport problems, Twyford said his Government was making strides to improve the situation.
"I think we are turning it around," he said.
He said the City Rail Link would be up and running by 2024 and said a light rail line from the CBD to the airport would "absolutely" be ready by 2030.
"The light rail connection I think will probably be another two years in the planning, the funding, the land acquisitions...Then you've got another several years to build it - so it's not going to happen tomorrow."
The rail line had effectively been given the green light, it was just a question of who the Government would partner with to build it, he said.
"We've been running a process over the last few months looking at the proposal that the New Zealand Super Fund with their Canadian partners have put forward and also looking in parallel to that at a more conventional public-private partnership (PPP) or design-and-build approach," Twyford told The AM Show.
"What the Super Fund proposed is that they would design, build and operate the light rail line for the next 50 years. This would mean that every time you ride a train to work, you're effectively paying for your retirement."
He stressed that the rail line would benefit many people in the city, not just those travelling to the airport.
"The point of the light rail from the city centre to Mangere is not just getting you to catch a plane, it's about building a line that will deliver high-quality rapid transit, mostly for people to get to work for a whole lot of communities that don't already have good public transport."
After becoming Labour leader in 2017, Jacinda Ardern originally promised a light rail link between the CBD and the airport would be completed within a decade.