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Big test for Auckland Transport this weekend

This coming weekend is perhaps the biggest test of Auckland Transport’s ability to manage transport to and from events since the Rugby World Cup – and remember they didn’t do too well on opening night of that tournament. There are three pretty massive events on over the weekend: the Latern Festival in Albert Park, the NRL Nines at Eden Park and an Eminem Concert at Western Springs. NZTA highlight the potential traffic impacts of the three events:

Drivers are being advised to plan their journeys for the end of this week because traffic on sections of Auckland’s motorway network will be heavy as three big outdoor events in the city attract tens of thousands of people.

A full house is expected at Eden Park for the rugby league nines tournament on Saturday and Sunday, a concert by American rapper Eminem at Western Springs on Saturday is sold out, and the popular Lantern Festival celebrating Chinese New Year is being held at Albert Park and Queen’s Wharf in the central city from Thursday until Sunday.

The NZ Transport Agency’s National Journey Manager, Kathryn Musgrave, says the St Lukes interchange on the Northwestern Motorway (State Highway 16) and motorway interchanges connecting with the city centre will be busy.

“The three events mean there will be more traffic on our networks than normal, particularly in the city centre and in the inner west around Eden Park and Western Springs. We would advise people going to these events to make a plan that will get them to their destination early and home again safely.”

Mrs Musgrave says the Transport Agency will use electronic messages on the motorways to keep people informed of driving conditions, but she says people should consider using public transport.

“Parking will be at a premium anywhere near the venues, and the train, bus or ferry will be a hassle-free option for travel.”

Auckland Transport seem pretty confident they can handle the crowds – Chief Operating Officer Greg Edmonds provides some basic information about a minute and a half into the video you can click through to below:

greg-edmondsIt seems like Saturday will be the most challenging day for transport as the Latern Festival will still be running, the NRL Nines will have its first day from around 10.30 in the morning to 5.30 in the evening and then the Eminem concert will be on at Western Springs that evening. All three locations aren’t that far from each other in central and inner west Auckland.

The big challenges will be getting people to and from the different events – especially the large number of people from Australia who will be attending the Nines and from around NZ for the Eminem concert. Obvious things to do include:

  • 24 hour bus lanes on each side of Great North Road between the city and Western Springs all of Saturday.
  • A strong focus on getting as many people heading to the Nine as possible to catch the train – which means it has to work perfectly. The enhanced rail timetables look a bit on the light side.
  • Enhanced pedestrian spaces in and around the city centre to cater for the large crowds – particularly on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings. This seems like the thing Auckland Transport are least likely to get right.

Auckland Transport has been a mixed bag lately when it comes to planning for events. For the Big Day Out they did a really good and comprehensive job with a huge number of buses shuttling people to and from the venue. Yet for recent cricket matches, particularly the One Day International against India – which had a crowd of nearly 30,000 – the transport was completely inadequate and poorly organised.

Time will tell whether Auckland Transport has properly planned for the coming weekend.

14 comments to Big test for Auckland Transport this weekend

  • Anthony

    I thought public transport for the weekend was a bit light as well. I guess time will tell

  • Barb Insull

    No mention of bikes being used as transport! Or provision of secure bike parking. Why not?

  • Bryan

    These events won’t be attracting a huge crowd over a small time period, like the RWC opening did. The crowds for all of them should be spread throughout the day :-
    NRL Nines first game 12:35, last game 7:25pm (all over by 8:00pm)
    Lantern Festival runs between 2pm to 9:20pm at Queens Wharf, and between 5:00pm and 10:30pm at Albert Park
    Eminem/Rapture from 3:30pm until 11pm

    Auckland Stadiums have this note “For those of you also attending the Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines, please use the approved walking route (Bond St/Gt Nth Rd).”

    iirc the posters on the train mentioned extra trains and buses until 2am for M&M.

  • JohnP

    People never learn from history. If you need to go to Eden Park the very best way is drive a car full of friends, park as close as you are able in one of the surrounding streets and walk 20mins or so. We all know this and yet people in positions of responsibility are not honest enough to tell those who are new to Auckland this simple truth. The roads have plenty of capacity at that time of day, the public transport system almost never does. Just think of the poor people who didn’t know any better who missed the opening of the Rugby World Cup or the 1995 Americas Cup parade when full trains passed through stations full of disappointed fans who missed the parade. Your best means of transport to an event are 1/ drive 2/walk 3/ bus 4/ fly in on a pig 5/ use the train.

    • SDW

      Have to agree, I made the mistake of trying to take public transport to the test match on the Saturday and it was shambolic, even for such a small crowd. Unless I’m drinking I will probably always drive to Eden Park now.

      • Luke C

        NZ Cricket don’t seem to co-operate to help fund Public Transport to cricket which doesn’t help, neither did all games being held on Network Closure weekends, and AT not caring at all.
        Though test match much better than the ODI, post match buses free, scrapped need to wrist band despite what press release said.
        However for rugby Rail has been working very well, getting 50% of crowds on Public Transport, mostly rail. Once network closures stop all will be fine.

        • Ticket prices were already cited as a reason almost no one showed up, I doubt adding another cost would have made a difference except put even more people off.

          • Luke C

            No so much the price of transport, but the ability to load lots of fans post match. If it is free, open the doors everyone jumps on. If it costs have to have some way to buy tickets, no easy when you have 20,000 people wanting to go to CBD at same time.

  • Luke C

    While the transport for Nines and Eminem looks decent, Auckland Transport will be failing the Sunday night Lantern Festival crowd.
    Fireworks at 10.30pm Sunday, but no trains, no NEX and barely any buses at 11pm Sunday.
    I remember last year huge crowds waiting for the last Dominion Road service, and most being left behind.
    Even if you want to go to Lantern festival earlier on Sunday, and head back West you will not be happy, as westbound trains are replaced by buses, even well after Nines have finished.

    Main issues with the Nines seems to be AT are planning on everyone turning up in time for the first game, with 5 minute frequencies leading up to this time which is great.
    However as with 7’s people will likely arrive over several hours, however rail timetable reverts to 30 minutes after 1.30pm. Should be 15 minutes all afternoon.

  • Was pretty disappointed today, as a person who wasn’t going to any of those events. One issue with AT’s comms is that they often target the events crowds, forgetting that the changes to services to accommodate the event crowds also affects other service users. I stood all the way to New Lynn on a jam packed rail bus (I was actually right at the front of the bus pass the ‘stand behind this point’ line, it was that packed) not realising there was actually a limited train service operating from Morningside to Waitakere which I could have transferred onto to save having to stand all the way to New Lynn. It also occurred to me that it was strange that AT operated rail buses across the entire line despite having a train service operating over most of the line. I think they would have been better off just operating rail buses between Britomart and Morningside and transferring pax to/from trains at Morningside. The trains that I saw had very few passengers on it while the rail buses were full to overflowing — hardly a good introduction to PT for people using it for the first time I would have thought…

  • Braw

    AT fail again. Non existent comms and confused staff at Britomart, electronic signage not working, roads open that clearly should have been closed due to high pedestrian numbers, lack of services leaving people stranded, rowdy crowds, lack of Police presence, ticket machines out of order etc etc. We try to do the right thing but we’ll be taking the car to the lantern festival next year; much less stressful that way.

  • Bryce P

    NEX left Britomart at 9pm absolutely full and left 100+ on the footpath. Next bus was scheduled for 30 minutes. We just scraped in with 6 year old in tow. Huge thanks to the young lady who vacated her seat for him to sit, well sleep, in.

    • I just saw the queue at about 10pm. Must have been 300 people. Absolutely bonkers not to run a more frequent timetable, it’s not like the lantern festival is a surprise to anyone.

  • Sam

    Even dominion road services, which run every 10-20 minutes through Saturday night, were completely packed and leaving passengers all day and evening- and this was the case in both directions. Queues weren’t huge though, so they were kind of keeping up with demand. Going home at 9:30pm from the lantern festival on my 6th crush loaded bus of the day, there were absolutely no cars anywhere- you could go for an entire minute on Mt Eden road and not see one. Hopefully after this mess, people are still willing to trust public transport again next year- i do think the majority probably got home in reasonable time

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