Isaac Davison

Isaac Davison is a NZ Herald political reporter.

Disabled fans feel let-down by RWC transport

Andrew McMillan who is a tetraplegic, feels left out in the cold by Eden Park's transport overhaul for the RWC. Photo / Steven McNicholl
Andrew McMillan who is a tetraplegic, feels left out in the cold by Eden Park's transport overhaul for the RWC. Photo / Steven McNicholl

Some disabled fans feel left out in the cold by Eden Park's transport overhaul for the Rugby World Cup.

One says games may no longer be worth attending.

Auckland Transport moved 16,500 people on public transport before and after Saturday's rugby test, but several mobility-impaired people say they struggled under the new transport system, with long waits and frustration.

Eden Park has moved its mobility parks to the corner of Bellwood Ave and Dominion Rd for the tournament, and runs shuttles for the disabled to the stadium's stands.

Mt Albert resident Andrew McMillan, 36, said faults in communication resulted in him waiting in his wheelchair for 45 minutes after Saturday's match for a ride. When no shuttle arrived, he went the three blocks to his pick-up point on his own wheels.

"Is it quite far to go on a wheelchair, especially when it's cold because my arms get pretty stiff," he said.

Mr McMillan said authorities appeared to change pick-up points and blocked his driver from collecting him. He was eventually picked up an hour after the match ended.

Auckland Transport spokesman Wally Thomas said mobility taxis had to be in the Bellwood Ave collection site when the match ended. He said it appeared that road closures had not been communicated to Mr McMillan's driver.

"If there's anything that we need to take out of this it's that we need to work even harder with taxis to ensure that they're aware of disabled access."

Gavin Bruce, from New Lynn, said he was considering cancelling his tickets to seven World Cup games after his trip home from Eden Park left him exhausted and in pain.

Mr Bruce can walk only 100 metres at a time. With train services to west Auckland terminating at Morningside, he required a shuttle to the train station after the match.

"It was extremely difficult to get to [the shuttle]. I did manage to get there, but I was in quite a bit of pain."

After a 45-minute wait for a shuttle he reached the Morningside train station at 10.30pm, an hour and a quarter after the match finished.

Auckland Transport said loading and offloading people from the shuttle was time-consuming and may have led to delays in the service. Sixty-five people were moved by shuttle on Saturday night.

Mr Bruce said: "Unless they can help me with mobility transport, I will be seeking a refund on my pool tickets..." Disabled fans said the stadium had excellent facilities.

Auckland Transport formed a taskforce to improve accessibility for the Rugby World Cup, which included advisers from CCS Disability Action.

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- NZ Herald

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