Auckland taxis gear up for Rugby World Cup

By Paul Harper

Taxi companies are anticipating a busy night in Auckland this Friday. Photo / Steven McNicholl
Taxi companies are anticipating a busy night in Auckland this Friday. Photo / Steven McNicholl

Taxi companies are anticipating a busy night in Auckland this Friday, but if you need a cab early on Saturday morning you shouldn't have any trouble getting home from Party Central.

Up to 50,000 people are expected to flood the waterfront, and with another 60,000 packing into Eden Park for the opening game of the Rugby World Cup the city's transport facilities will be put to the test.

Extra buses and trains have been put on to cater for the extra masses, but taxi companies are warning it may be hard to get a cab at certain times.

Corporate Cabs operations manager Peter Thompson said their taxis are "pretty well fully booked" before and after the game.

"After the match for about two hours we're very much fully booked out and certainly from about 5 o'clock through to 7pm, you'll be pretty well stuffed getting a taxi," he said.

"If you wanted to book, we might be able to take a few bookings a little bit earlier and at the other end at midnight we will have taxis available then.

While you may find yourself paying more for accommodation or food at some establishments during the Rugby World Cup, you are not going to face price gouging from the main taxi companies.

"If it is a taxi it is the standard tariff rate that it states on the door - we can't charge any more than that," Mr Thompson said. "We're bound by legislation, but that's not to say some rogue elements won't charge people more - that's for the taxi enforcement guys to deal with."

Auckland Co-op Taxis chairman Ian Graham is expecting a "chaotic" Friday night.

"We've had very heavy bookings - it's going to be a very busy night. It'll probably be similar to a New Years Eve."

Mr Graham expected drivers to be busy prior to the start of festivities at the Queen's Wharf fan zone and before and after the opening ceremony and All Blacks versus Tonga game at Eden Park.

"We're going to be really busy, I'd say from 4.30pm through to 8.30pm."

However the manager of Cheap Cabs, Carol Ramsey, is confident people will not struggle to find a cab when they are ready to leave town early on Saturday morning, saying Auckland will be "over-catered for" if anything.

Ms Ramsey said many former drivers have had their licences renewed for the tournament, and all of the company's 140 taxis will be on the road.

"Most taxi drivers ... already could take a 60 per cent increase in workload on a busy Friday or Saturday night. Then you've got extra drivers, extra transport ... I think Auckland will be fine," she said.

"If anything you're going to see lots of taxis sitting around."

Ms Ramsey expected a rush of demand between 2am and 3am, just like on a normal Saturday or Sunday morning, and did not believe there would be any trouble getting people too and from the game.

Alert Taxi's director Paul Cafferkey is also confident they will be able to cope with demand. All 400 of the company's fleet will be on the road this Friday.

"We've had some good bookings, to games, from games, and to other events," Mr Cafferkey said. "We're up to speed."

One concern shared by the taxi companies is how difficult it will be to get to the waterfront.

"It's going to be very difficult to get a taxi down there. People are going to have to walk a considerable distance because the whole of Quay St is closed," Mr Thompson said.
Mr Graham agreed.

"It's going to very congested. It would have been very nice if we had been able to use the bus lanes, but the city council has decided we're not allowed to use the bus lanes.

"We have to sit in the traffic like everybody else."

Mr Graham advised people to be patient.

"There will be times when there will be waiting, because unfortunately in the taxi game everyone wants a taxi at the same time. We can't supply everyone at the same time - there will be delays."

Mr Graham said the company's entire fleet numbers almost 900, and all drivers available to work will be on the city's streets on Friday night.

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