13 Sep 2011

Minister confident no repeat of Cup transport chaos

12:04 pm on 13 September 2011

Transport Minister Steven Joyce has emerged from a meeting in Auckland confident there will be no repeat of problems which disrupted rail services on the opening night of the Rugby World Cup.

Thousands of fans were held up when trains and buses carrying fans to Eden Park on Friday were delayed, and ferry services stopped altogether because Queens Wharf in the central city became overcrowded.

Hundreds of fans are thought to have been late for, or missed, the opening ceremony or the match itself between the All Blacks and Tonga.

The minister, Steven Joyce, met Auckland mayor Len Brown and officials on Tuesday morning, a day before report on the problems is due to be released.

Mr Joyce won't yet say why he's feeling confident that issues he raised are being resolved, saying only that he was satisifed everything was being addressed.

Earlier, Mr Joyce told Morning Report it was possible Auckland authorities overpromoted transport by train and that meant the transport system was overused.

No Plan B

Auckland's Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett said he warned officials were underestimating the likely turnout to downtown festivities on the opening night.

Mr Barnett says he told the council that 150,000 people could turn up rather than the 50,000 organisers expected. It is now thought that more than 200,000 tried to make their way into the area.

Asked about the claim on Tuesday, Auckland Mayor Len Brown said only that everyone is wiser in hindsight.

Mr Barnett told Nine to Noon it was clear by 2pm on the afternoon of the Rugby World Cup opening day that Auckland's transport system was under strain and a back-up should have been in place, with buses put on standby.

But he said there was no adequate Plan B in place to cope with transport failures.

A report on the transport problems and overcrowding in the downtown area will go to an Auckland Council committee at lunchtime on Wednesday.

The next match at Eden Park takes place on Saturday night when Australia play Ireland.