Any Rugby World Cup organiser stuck in traffic around Auckland's roadworks might be forgiven for fretting whether 1000 days is enough to prepare for the region's greatest transport challenge. But if Rugby New Zealand 2011 chief Martin Snedden has nervous spasms on that score, he is a master of disguise.
Despite Auckland's notoriety for fragmented decision-making, he is confident the high visibility of the rugby fiesta has made everyone involved in preparations to shunt 60,000 spectators in and out of Eden Park - as well as at least that number of overseas visitors from the airport and back - all too aware failure is no option.
"I know there's a lot of urgency in the Auckland area still, and a lot of nervousness," he admits.
"But this project has such a high profile that anyone who has responsibility for organising certain aspects of it knows failure will be a very public failure - and that tends to have a very galvanising effect on people."
Snedden is cheered by the gusto being pumped into preparations by the Auckland Regional Transport Authority and Auckland City's major events planning team.
He has also secured a guarantee from the Government's Transport Agency that there will be no major road closures, unlike last weekend, when the demolition of a bridge over the Northern Motorway caused 5km of traffic jams at the height of the Christmas party season.
The agency says it is confident of completing its $230 million Manukau Harbour motorway crossing duplication by 2011, to avoid airport traffic hold-ups, although the $195 million replacement Newmarket Viaduct will be only half-built and northbound vehicles will have to use what will remain of the existing seismically-challenged structure.
But few overseas visitors will be driving themselves, so a high demand is expected for buses-only shoulder lanes being added to the harbour crossing and the motorway extension due to open through Mt Roskill to Dominion and Sandringham Roads in three months.
The regional transport authority wants to get at least 75 per cent of ticket holders to major matches at Eden Park - including the final four and probably also the 44-day tournament's opener - by public transport, taxis or on foot.
It has yet to obtain confirmation from rail and bus operators that there will be enough vehicles available, or the logistical capability to load them fast enough, given an imperative to clear the area of 45,000 spectators by other than by private cars within 75 minutes of the ref's final whistle.
The target for now is:
15,000 on trains (13,000 through Kingsland Station and 2000 through Morningside);
23,400 on 220 bus trips and 200 coaches;
3600 by taxi;
3000 on foot.
That is almost three times the 16,000 patrons weaned off cars for this winter's Bledisloe Cup match with the incentive of bus or rail fares incorporated into event tickets, itself a quantum leap from pre-2007 games, when just 2 to 4 per cent of spectators used public transport.
But the authority and rail agency Ontrack plan a swag of improvements to Kingsland Station, including lengthening both platforms and making them available to trains - whether diesel or electric - heading in the same direction on two sets of tracks.
That should allow alternating departures every five minutes to Britomart by 1000 passengers a time, leaving an upgraded Morningside station to the west of Eden Park clear for match-goers from Waitakere City.
The authority also wants to improve access to Kingsland's northern platform by building a pedestrian underpass and an extra set of stairs from the footbridge over the railway tracks.
That follows the safety concerns of police, after 9000 Bledisloe Cup spectators swamped the station and spilled on to the tracks.
Auckland City is considering public submissions over plans to move Sandringham Rd three metres to allow the southern platform to be widened, and to improve pedestrian flows with extra street crossings, streamlined intersections and a link lane requiring the removal of two heritage homes northeast of the Eden Park.
Although the Eden-Albert Community Board and local residents oppose the lane, the transport authority deems it crucial for allowing match-goers to fan out from the park by a variety of routes.
Sandringham Rd will close to private cars between New North Rd and at least Reimers Ave, but buses will drive into the park's southwestern corner to collect passengers from a transport hub for which a resource consent will be sought early next year.
Bruce Barnard, recently hired from Australia as the authority's World Cup transport programme director after his key involvement in events such as the 2006 Commonweath Games, says route diversification is critical to success and the link lane is needed to divert non-rail users from crowds descending on the train station.
As for inter-city transport, Auckland International Airport expects to have the first stage of its second runway built to assist with regional flights to pool games, and Snedden's organisation wants to negotiate deals with bus and air operators to make the most of their capacity.
An army of campervans will help, and cruise ships may be used to move spectators to Auckland from quarter-final matches in both Christchurch and Wellington.