Warning over Rugby World Cup transport woes

Huge crowds were forced to wait for public transport outside the Britomart Centre in Auckland after the opening game of the Rugby World Cup on Friday. Photo / Alan Gibson.
Huge crowds were forced to wait for public transport outside the Britomart Centre in Auckland after the opening game of the Rugby World Cup on Friday. Photo / Alan Gibson.

Auckland transport providers appear to be skating on thin ice, with the Government hinting heads could roll if there is a repeat of last week's Rugby World Cup chaos this weekend.

About 2000 people reportedly missed last Friday's opening ceremony due to train delays, and an Auckland Transport review released today (Wednesday) suggested improving communications, limiting loads on trains, and bringing in more security.

Transport Minister Steven Joyce said he had been assured the motivation was there to get things right for Saturday's Australia / Ireland clash at Eden Park.

"Obviously the proof of the pudding will be in the eating this weekend, but they have the ability to respond and make sure everything is done well,'' he told reporters this afternoon.

"Everybody's confidence was dented last Friday night with the transport to the game and to the waterfront, and I think in those sorts of situations you have to earn that back.''

Should the system fail again, Mr Joyce indicated there would be repercussions.

"If there are any issues, and I'm certainly not expecting any issues but should any occur, then obviously there'd be some particular changes.''

The Government's priority was ensuring Friday's problems were fixed, but Mr Joyce said accountability was also an issue.

"I don't want to wade into that, except to note that the inquiry has been set up, that Auckland Transport has set up an inquiry in regards to their operator, and I think we've got to let that play through.''

Mr Joyce said he was not aware of anyone offering up a resignation following last week's problems, which he put down largely to the unprecedented number of people who tried to use public transport.

"There was a fear that insufficient people would use public transport, they put huge effort into getting people to use public transport and as a result they probably had a shift from one extreme to the other.''

He said he was pleased with the provisions Auckland Transport had proposed.

"Firstly ensuring that there is additional capacity available, so there is redundancy in the system to address issues as they occur. Secondly to ensure much better communications, it is quite obvious that was a significant failing on Friday,'' he said.

"Thirdly, improvements in crowd control, both in the train stations and on the trains themselves, and fourthly, general security.''

Auckland Transport had taken on the cost of the extra security and buses.

"I fully expect we'll see some more use of private transport this weekend, but other people will also be happy to use public transport,'' he said.

"I would also recommend that people travel early, but there's certainly much more redundancy in place this weekend than there was last weekend.''

- NZ Herald

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