Well that was an interesting day. On the one hand, I’ve never seen Auckland’s city centre so busy, vibrant and exciting. But on the other hand, well…
Auckland’s transport system ground to a halt tonight, stopping thousands of rugby fans getting to the opening game of the Rugby World Cup on time.
As an estimated crowd of more than 100,000 people took to the streets to celebrate, authorities were forced to close parts of the city to traffic.
And in the middle of the chaos people were bashed, pedestrians were hit by a bus and children were separated from their parents.
Some rugby fans, disgusted with the poor performance of Auckland’s trains, want compensation for rugby tickets they say they couldn’t use.
I’m going to discuss things in more detail tomorrow, but a few impressions:
- There were clearly an enormously greater number of people in town than expected. That was perhaps somewhat due to the good weather, but probably should have been expected. It certainly didn’t feel as though there was good crowd control.
- Queen Street clearly should have been closed to cars from midday, or at the very least the mid afternoon. I could tell at around 3pm that there were going to be far too many people on Queen Street than the footpaths could contain. People did eventually spread onto the roads – although in a very uncontrolled and somewhat dangerous way.
- Something clearly went horribly wrong with the train system. People couldn’t get into Britomart, the trains kept stopping, just a disaster.
- Routes should have been set aside for buses that were clear of cars and (hopefully) of pedestrians to ensure that the buses could operate normally. At the very least there should have been Backup plans – after all a whole team of Auckland Transport has been planning this for years.
Oddly, while it was largely a pretty fun day – although I got quite tired at the end – overall my impression was one of a kind of happy chaos. There was a vastly inadequate number of people managing what was going on, there were promises of closing Queen Street – but it never happened.
It’ll be interesting to see the reaction over the next few days.