The 2014 Big Day Out is on Friday. It’s good to see the festival back in Auckland – albeit at a different location – after what we thought would be the final one in 2012. I’ve only missed two of them since 2002, but I’ve got a great reason for not going this year – some very close friends are getting married.

The Big Day Out is a major exercise in logistics: up to 50,000 people converging on a single location, most in a positive frame of mind but in various mental states, and expecting to get in and out fairly smoothly. Over the years, I must have tried just about every transport option possible to get to the BDO.

I’m very pleased to see that this year – for the first time ever I think? – there will be free public transport to and from the Big Day Out. Good stuff. Unfortunately, parts of the rail network are still shut down. See the link for further details, but it looks like:

  1. If you’re heading to or from town, you’re best off taking the bus. “A continuous Express bus service runs from Britomart out to the Big Day Out from 9am. This is the recommended public transport route from the CBD to the Big Day Out”. Note that, unlike previous years, they’re leaving from Quay St, not Real Groovy.
  2. In fact, AT want everyone to head via town, and hop on one of the (free) special event buses. “Direct travel to Western Springs via the Western Train Stations is not advised. It is recommended that all train passengers travel via Britomart and transfer to an event bus”. Note that there are still fewer rail services to Britomart than normal – see the PDFs available via the link.
  3. After the Big Day Out finishes, hop on a bus back to town, and either stick around, or head home from there. Free Northern Express buses will be operating, as well as rail services on all lines (although some of those will still be “rail buses”).

My reviews of past years:

Trains – In 2012, trains moved just over 4,600 passengers, or around 15% of the gate. It’s quite likely that in a typical year, that figure would be higher – but 2012 saw very weak BDO ticket sales, at only around 15,000 people. As a result, people were probably more likely to drive.

Like many people, the BDO train was often the only one I caught all year. I’m disappointed to say that there were often holdups – trains would stop for 5, 10 or 15 minutes, and it would become really hot and stuffy in the carriages. Let’s hope that performance is better this year, and passengers are given a great experience which they want to repeat, instead of a terrible one which they won’t. And hopefully the BDO sticks around long enough to make use of our long-awaited electric trains.

Bus – generally slower than trains, but good festive atmosphere. I’m sure that will still be the case this year. Besides, if it’s a really good day and you’ve planned it properly, the time shouldn’t matter.

Taxi – Expensive unless you’re sharing with friends. If you’re heading to the CBD, don’t bother, but this option may make sense if you’re going to or from a more suburban location.

Get a lift – Get someone to give you a ride to or from the BDO. Mum, thanks for all the rides over the years. Cumulatively, this more than makes up for the grave injustices perpetrated in 2001, when I wasn’t allowed to go, even though my cousin was – and she came up from Wellington for it, and stayed at our house, and was a few months younger than me.

Drive – Driving is a bit different now the BDO is at Western Springs rather than Mt Smart. As always, be prepared to do a bit of walking, as you won’t find a park that close. Don’t block people’s driveways, don’t park on the lawn, and don’t be under the influence. And please look out for kids or pets on the street – one of my coworkers who lives nearby is very concerned about her cat’s safety!

Important – Driving Update: from an NZTA press release here:

One of the busiest sections of highway will be the St Lukes interchange on the Northwestern Motorway (State Highway 16).  There could be delays for drivers heading west on the motorway at this Interchange at peak times during the day and the evening. The east or citybound ramps of the interchange, together with Great North Road alongside the stadium and some other local roads,  will be closed from 8pm on the night.

Anyway, I hope that everyone going has a great time – stay safe and enjoy yourselves!

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    1. In front-running cities it is very common to have bike parking at major events.
      Example from San Francisco: “Monitored bicycle parking is required for events with an anticipated number of participants greater than 2000″. ”

    2. Biking an obvious way to get there, it is on the NW bike route, the best Auckland has to offer.

      Also, I’d guess a fair contingent of the crowd is within walking distance, one of the advantages of holding it in a more central location.

    1. It’s only the special buses from Quay Street, the trains, and the Northern Express that are free (show your BDO ticket). Other buses are normal price.

  1. Walking from Morningside station for Western Line rail riders would be fine I’d have thought? … But for us Grey Lynners; it’s just out the back door, which will make it very easy for my son….

    1. Yeah, walking from Morningside would take about 20 minutes I’d think. You’d get there about the same time your train would have arrived at Britomart.

      I wonder what AT’s concern is? People getting lost?

      1. My guess is the concern results from very bad pedestrian amenity from the rail line, especially for large crowds.

        Walking from Morningside involves crossing a lot of roads Gt North Rd to get to Rocky Nook Ave has no pedestrian facilities (ped-x lights would be good at the Morningside west exit). Still, a temporary crossing with someone marshalling traffic (stop/go sign) would have sufficed.

        Walking from Baldwin Ave is further but more straightforward, until you get to the stupidly designed St Lukes Rd motorway overbridge with a narrow footpath only on one side.

        Rail amenity to Western Springs Stadium could do with some substantial improvement on those walking routes. In a couple of years, many more Aucklanders may well expect to be able to catch trains to events like this.

        1. Ooh, I had a bit of a look and that is nasty indeed. I was thinking you’d go out the eastern exit, through Morningside shops and up Western Springs and Mountain View Roads… but even in the Morningside shops, there’s no pedestrian crossing on either the western arm of New North Road, or Inwood Street.

  2. Damn, after reading this article I realise there is no way I can cycle to the big day out. I will have to resort to crawling there or maybe slither?

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