Transport woes hit All Black's mum

By John Weekes, Newstalk ZB

People queuing for trains at Kingsland station. Photo / Sarah Ivey
People queuing for trains at Kingsland station. Photo / Sarah Ivey

A proud All Black mother missed her son's team playing in the opening game of last night's Rugby World Cup because of Auckland's transport woes.

All Black Kieran Reid's mum missed the opening ceremony and the first half of last night's game.

All Black Piri Weepu says it's disappointing to hear that so many people missed out on seeing the game and opening ceremony.

"It's pretty bad that people that were trying to get to the game either missed the game or the opening ceremony," says the scrum-half.

Weepu says a back-up transport plan for the next matches held at Eden park is a good idea.

World Cup minister 'disappointed'

Rugby World Cup Minister Murray McCully today said he was disappointed poor performance in two areas had spoiled the Cup opening for some people.

"Two areas of under-performance clearly require immediate attention. Auckland's public transport system failed to deliver to the required standard," Mr McCully said.

"In spite of reasonably successful trial events, there is no escaping the fact that last night's performance was short of the standard required. Urgent steps will now need to be taken to ensure that these matters are rectified before the next large Eden Park match next weekend."

Transport inquiry launched

Mr McCully's remarks came after an inquiry into the transport failures was announced by Auckland Mayor Len Brown today.

Mr Brown said he was looking into compensation for those who missed the game because of the transport problems.

Auckland public transport was gridlocked last night as 200,000 people partied in the city while another 60,000 watched the opening game of the tournament at Eden Park.

Further details emerged of the transport problems yesterday with people complaining of failures on all public transport services - buses, ferries and trains.

Mr Brown said he would "step up to the plate" to address problems experienced by public transport users.

The mayor - who campaigned for election on public transport - also offered an explanation for taking a car to Eden Park.

"I had no idea what challenges I might face getting through Queens Wharf," Mr Brown said.

The mayor said "adoring fans" all around the viaduct presented problems, expecting him to play a role in hosting events. He said people would have invited him "into all the various parties at Britomart" so public transport was not an option.

"But I'll be taking the train in future."

Brown said stoppages occurred because people feeling unsafe or constrained repeatedly pressed emergency safety buttons. In older carriages, this brought trains to a halt.

He said the performance by trains was "not satisfactory at all" and improvements in reliability and communication would be needed.

For those who did not make events, Brown said he would not want travellers left "out of pocket".

Mr Brown expressed confidence in train operator Veolia and blamed Auckland's ancient rail stock.

He praised Eden Park and said the public behaved with good-humour and patience. There was a "fabulous atmosphere".

Veoila head Graham Sibery offered his second public apology in three days for failures on the service.

Sibery said huge numbers of passengers added to a regular Friday commuters presented an exceptional situation. He said weekend matches would present fewer problems and trains would be able to move "manageable numbers" of people.

- APNZ

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