Transport body wants RWC day off for schools

By Wayne Thompson

Photo / Brett Phibbs
Photo / Brett Phibbs

Central Auckland schools are being urged to have a "teacher-only" day on September 9 to get children off the streets and help avoid traffic chaos on Rugby World Cup kick-off day.

Auckland Transport says it is calling for time out to schools on feeder roads which will close for the Eden Park evening opening ceremony.

A third of all traffic at peak times is generated by schools. More than 245,000 children travel to Auckland schools in the morning.

"The last thing we want is traffic chaos on the day the cup starts, because it will set the tone for the rest," said Auckland Transport board member and Auckland Council member Christine Fletcher.

She was disappointed by the Education Ministry's refusal to direct a teacher-only day, leaving it to the discretion of each school.

"September 9 is a Friday, so pupils could have had a long weekend. It is the only day that there will be a conflict.

We will still lobby the Government to direct a teacher-only day, otherwise the schools will have to make up the day lost."

So far, two schools plan to take up the request.

Auckland Girls Grammar principal Liz Thomson, whose school has 2000 pupils, said the school was able to transfer a teacher-only day that had been planned for the week before.

Kowhai Intermediate School is a block away from Eden Park and will be closed that day. It will make the day up at the end of term four.

Mt Eden Normal Primary School is yet to discuss the matter.

Auckland Grammar School will not close because its seniors will be in the middle of exams.

Epsom Girls Grammar is also holding exams that week, and pupils will be coming and going at different times so the 3.30pm scramble will be avoided.

Adding to the pressure on transport chiefs on kick-off day will be rolling street closures as motorcades carry Pacific Forum leaders, due in Auckland for their annual summit, to Eden Park.

Road closures will begin around Eden Park at 4.30pm.

The agency suggests commuters not wanting to be caught up in the crush should try to leave the central city before 3.30pm - four hours before the ceremony starts.

- NZ Herald

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