Adele’s recent concerts broke records for ticket sales in NZ but they also contributed to some transport records too. Auckland Transport have announced that Thursday last week, the first of her three concerts has set the record for the most trips on public transport recorded for a single day at just under 400,000 trips (261k on buses, 113k on rail and 25k on ferries).

That’s more even than the infamous opening night of the Rugby World Cup in 2011 where around 370,000 trips were made used PT. Perhaps as a testament to the improvements made to our PT system over the last 5-6 years, unlike in 2011 where the volumes overloaded our networks creating chaos, this time AT seemed to manage very well. On social media I did see a handful of complaints, mostly about people struggling to get off the platform at Penrose which simply isn’t designed for such large numbers, but I also saw considerably more compliments for how smoothly the system worked.

And it wasn’t like there were just a few people to cater for too. AT have reported that for the Thursday concert, a massive 80% of crowd used PT with 27,000 using trains and 7,600 using buses. And those numbers had to be moved to the stadium during the afternoon peak too. To put the rail numbers into perspective, the last figures AT provided me (last year) said that around 10,000 people arrive by train at Britomart in the morning between 7am and 9pm. To move more than twice that and normal train users at the same time is an impressive achievement.

And the numbers using PT stayed high for the two weekend concerts too.

Mr Main says the numbers using public transport for the concerts stayed strong across the weekend. On Saturday night, 21,000 people travelled on the trains back to the city after the show and around 8,000 took the buses. Last night, there were 9,500 on the buses and 16,000 took the trains.

So, over those three days that’s 64,000 people (128k trips) on the rail network and 25,200 people (50k trips) by bus. It’s impressive both how much Aucklanders obviously embraced our PT system but also that AT were able to pull it all off relatively smoothly.

Auckland Transport have faced plenty of criticism from us over the years for how they’ve handled events, so it’s only fair that we give them credit when they get it right. And get it right they certainly seemed to do with the recent Adele concerts.

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  1. Really good news! So happy to see PT working better for these sorts of special events. As Auckland/New Zealand grows then special events like this will become the norm: i look to a day when there is something happening each and every day that doesn’t threaten to wreck the transport network. Only PT can move sufficient numbers of people to make these sorts of events possible, as Auckland has learned in the last decade or so.

  2. My wife and I went to the Sunday show. This was 40,000 ticket holders all leaving at once in the pouring rain which showed no signs of letting up! We joined the queue of masses on Station Road to get to Penrose station where officials were loading people into trains systematically (using all three platforms). Departed not long after entering a train and it was so easy getting a connection from Newmarket onto the Western Line. Take a bow AT!

  3. So with updated Penrose Station and Onehunga Line perhaps Mt Smart is a better contender for Stadium investment than downtown?

    Or Eden Park sitting between existing rail and coming Light Rail… ?

    And yes well done AT, and haven’t we come a long way from 2011, keep it up!

    March ridership figures are going to be off the scale.

    1. $1b for a downtown stadium would probably buy a pretty impressive LRT concourse, tracks to the CBD and some big upgrades to Eden Park itself. It’s a conversation we should be having.

      1. One of he problems with Eden park is the limitations on the number of events that can be held there. A summary of the resource consent is here:


        9. The number of night-time rugby, cricket or similar type sporting events (requiring the use of lights) shall be limited 16 in any calendar year, with games being scheduled to finish no later than 9.05pm (for rugby) and 10.00pm (for cricket). The number of cricket fixtures scheduled to finish at the time aforesaid shall be limited to six in any cricket season, with no more than two of such fixtures being international events.

        10. No night-time rugby games requiring the use of lights shall commence before 7.00pm (Monday to Friday) and shall not be scheduled on the evening of any day when an afternoon event is taking place, provided that minor non-professional games (not involving the senior teams of provincial sides) in the nature of a curtain raiser may be played commencing not earlier than 5.30pm (Monday to Friday).

        11. There shall be no night-time games on Sundays.


        12. The number of outside day-time non-sporting events (not otherwise a permitted activity in the Eden Park Concept Plan DO7-18) shall be limited to 3 in any year.

        1. I’m not sure it’s such an issue, to be honest. There is about to be a lot less Super Rugby (at least one home game weekend freed up, assuming that three teams are dropped). The only thing I can see putting pressure on the existing consent conditions is Day/Night tests, which could take up a considerable number of those days in one foul swoop. I’m sure you could, with the same $1b that is being thrown around for a smaller stadium on the waterfront (that can’t hold a RWC final), make some pretty radical changes to Eden Park (instating the RWC ‘legacy’ option with a full ring stadium would be a start) that could improve on the noise situation.

        2. Time to show the red card to the local NIMBYS of Eden park. I don’t have a lot of sympathy for them. There has been a bloody great stadium there since forever, and whilst the local residents have had a good run thwarting the use of the stadium, I think it is time to firmly tell them they’ve done their dash and the stadium is going to be more heavily used in future.

        3. Noise is the big issue. We went to the Thurs concert, by train to get there from Onehunga, first time I’ve seen standing passengers leaving Onehunga. Afterwards walk home as no trains, but it wasn’t an issue as 40 min walk.

          Ok the noise, it was a loud concert being there in Thursday. Saturday night and Sunday night (with the rain) we could clearly hear the concert, enough to know the song and sing along with it loud enough. and we are 3km away in a straight line. Initially I thought it was one of the neighbours having a bbq. Eden Park, as nice as it is, is always going to have noise constraints on it. Its expensive to run, the blues and cricket have already bailed on it, Auckland Rugby is the last remaining team tenant.

  4. Like the RWC opening night, this will leave lasting impressions on eventgoers on the usefulness of PT in Auckland – this time, positively!

    I was heading home on a citybound NEX on Thursday with concertgoers on board and could hear multiple conversations, expressions of astonishment, even gasps, about how bad the traffic was and how amazing it was that we were effortlessly sailing straight past it all.

    That this was pulled off in the midst of March Madness makes this even more impressive – and will probably serve to boost user numbers permanently.

    1. I had the same experience Thursday – lots of people quite excited about the lack of traffic and the view from the double deckers. I got the impression that very few ever catch transit and a fair few very rarely go across the bridge, so it was a positive experience that might leave an impression.

  5. Yes they did well. Was thinking would all turn to custard if there was a major track fault or something in a inconvenient place. Interesting more moved to buses with each night, I’m assuming with not having to deal with the peak grid lock on roads & the rain on Sunday (plus perhaps some waiting too long for the train). Seems (if you look at the planned temporary timetable) they planned not to use Onehunga platform 3 (I guess due to train squashing crowds of people risk on the level crossings/hassle manually opening & closing them) but had rail replacement buses. They changed what they did I’m gathering from press releases etc to use platform 3 to load on way home which must of made a huge difference to crowd clearing time even though only 3 car sets can use this platform. Yes so make it a 6 platform by moving between O’Rorke & Maurice Rd & it will be heaps better, and slightly closer to the gates too!

  6. Make platform 3 able to handle 6 car sets, stack the 6 car sets up right down the Onehunga Line and one by one they can roll in, load up and shuttled people to Britomart. Good thing about Platform 3 is it is road side so no pesky narrow bridge to bottleneck things up.

    1. ..yes that’s the extra bonus I had forgotten to mention – road side. Interesting they didn’t (from their service announcement anyway) use direct buses from the stadium to the Northern Busway like they did for Justin Bieber concert for example. Could understand Thursday they wouldn’t’ bother/resource limits, & Sat Blues on at Albany, so perhaps just to keep it consistent didn’t for Sunday either?…or they did and didn’t tell us…but just thinking with rain conditions it would of helped. Also was Pasifika special buses to & from Civic I think but there we kind of earlier in the day, so AT did really well.

      1. I wish there had been direct buses to/from the shore. On Thursday waited half an hour to get on at Smales farm, so many full buses passed us, then at least at long in town. On the way home we waited over an hour to get on a bus, then had to catch another in town. Things were moving smoothly at least but I saw quite a few older people seeming quite confused about how it all worked. Thank goodness we followed what Richard Hills said on Facebook and gave ourselves plenty of time to get there.

    2. I wasn’t there myself, but from what I was told there was quite a pedestrian bottleneck around the O’Rourke and Maurice Rd level crossings, so it might be better not having trains on the Onehunga line at all during major events.

      Sounds like it all went very well, might be worth an upgrade to the pedestrian over bridges so they can handle bigger event crowds.

        1. Yes not that way, only North which is sensible, I could see on the Kiwi Transit app at that time quite a few every few minutes scheduled on that platform 3 to Britomart (also saw a cancelled one in amongst it around midnight).

        2. It was timetabled to run normally to Onehunga up until about closing time of the show, then was/would of been bus replacements (& I’m guessing runs around south of the stadium (via Gt Sth Rd, Church St) due to closed roads/stops at the normal rail replacement stops)

    3. Ben while stacking 6 cars up on the Onehunga branch and shuttling to Britomart may sound like a good idea in reality it isn’t that smart.
      Why the obsession with shuttling to Britomart, very few would have had Britomart as a final destination after the concert.
      Good luck moving the trains up while a large percentage of the 40 odd thousand people are crossing the branch line on their way out of the stadium, the whole reason Onehunga trains are suspended pre and post any major Mt Smart event.

        1. Maybe people going home from a concert want to go home not to Brtiomart. Being able to fit 6 cars on platform 3 (or in the ideal world platform 3 would not exist and the Mt Smart platform that could fit 6 cars would) would help moving those that want to go north while saving those going south and east from having to compete with so many northbound pax to get onto the Penrose platform, it still doesn’t mean trains can be stacked up down the branch.

      1. Seemed a lot more coming from northern direction than south, more population, Western line, ferries, Northern Express. Post CRL probably even more. With the huge amount catching the train compared to say walking home or parked car way up yonder across from the line & given there are other exists & directions to disperse like Neilson St, it is probably worth sacrificing the people crossing for clearing them on the train faster. Removing the bottle neck crossing problem would just mean joining queue to platforms anyway. Wonder people were allowed to cross the whole road with manually controlled metal gates etc…if not, would of really bottled up I guess. Two grade separated crossing coming up?

      2. You are shuttled to Newmarket and Britomart so you can catch:
        1) Western Line
        2) Eastern Line
        3) NEX Busses
        4) Ferries

        Southern Line would be loaded on Penrose Platform 1.

        As for the level crossings? Nothing manual management can not handle done properly. We stack Morningside up with trains with Eden Park events and that level crossing is damn sight harder to manage (but still doable). So Onehunga Line can be done with the big 6 car sets.

      3. Yeah the train to Britomart obviously makes perfect sense; picks up Newmarket for west and Britomart for Ferries and everywhere along the way for various buses…Also I know ted has trouble grasping this but around 50k people live in the city centre, and rising faster than anywhere else in the nation.

        Penrose Station could so be optimised for the sort of traffic too, if Mt Smart is to used like more often, clever use of the Onehunga line.

        1. Yes Patrick shuttles to Newmarket but Ben mentioned Britomart, when special event ‘shuttles’ run from Eden park they only stop once between Eden park and Britomart and Newmarket is not that place.
          Using Penrose platform 3 for western and eastern lines while southern line (both directions including Brtiomart) go to platform 1/2, trains from platform 1&2 go in both directions all stops. Platform 3 goes express (as soon as it leaves another turns up) to Newmarket opens the doors both sides for a waiting west and east train, west train goes all stops from Grafton and east train goes direct via the strand to Orakei then all stops while the shuttle goes express back to platform 3 out of the way of the all stops Britomart service. Standard eastern, western and southern services still run to/from Britomart as they do now. This gets everyone to where they want to go quickly without making people go via somewhere they don’t want to.

        2. Onehunga used to be a full junction and the south bound part of the wye track is still there (points removed). The island in the centre is currently a portico yard. It has rail on 2+ sides. Put a large platform there that includes the Onehunga and Southern lines. It also has the ability to have pedestrian access from O’Rorke Rd avoiding the need for passengers to have to cross at the level crossings.

        3. Yes there’s lots of shadow rail lines through the whole area. The whole area needs reviewing, and re-thinking, could be a lot of value unlocked between rail and Mt Smart…

    4. Using platform 3 was brilliant, I was in the slow queue on Sunday night and then a train turned up on platform 3 and a whole train load of people were taken out of the queue quite quickly and really speed up the process, and I was on the main platform a lot quicker.

      My only concern was that there was a 20 minutes wait for a western train which made it a very long trip.
      Some more 3 carriages trains on the western line would have been nice.

  7. Good job AT and kudos to the event organisers getting on board and providing public transport to their customers (and hopefully paying an accurate amount).

  8. Incidentally, living in the city I like the idea of concerts at Vector so I can walk but caught the train to Penrose for Fleetwood Mac at beginning of last year and loved the experience. Thought I was living in an overseas city again.

    The combination of PT and concerts at Mt Smart is a great combination. I think there’s a place for this venue. We don’t need a cbd stadium.

  9. It’s comedy hour on Transportblog or has April 1st come early?

    My experience of Thursday night was a cluster….. you know what!! As an avid train traveler I was at the Newmarket station seeking a way home. Trains were changing platforms left, right and center. The queue for the Southern Line was massive and when a train came it was already packed the gunnel’s from the crowds at Britomart. Most passengers were left on the platform and it’s hard to believe any passengers down the line could have boarded the train.

    Whilst some believe the propaganda I’ll believe the evidence. It was another fail for AT from what I saw.

    1. So you’ve identified some issues that could improve on the overall experience.

      Have you provided feedback in a constructive way that can be fed into the ongoing events planning process or are you going to make comments from the sidelines?

      I’m sure the evening was not perfect, but it sounds like it was a whole lot better than it could have been, for which AT need to be commended.

  10. A few thoughts on event trains from Mt Smart. The platform and ramp was not built to cope with the numbers that wanted out at the same time.
    The ramps need to be wider. The platforms need to be longer.
    My impression was that the vast majority had not used PT before. The AT staff were doing their best to clear people as quickly as they could. This included a lot of shouting at people. I felt they were quite concerned about the possibility of crush injury and the need to clear patrons and trains from the station. Our train left with a lot of space inside.
    The other suggestion is to have event light signs telling patrons where to go. This would mean staff wouldn’t have to shout at the crowd.
    My other impression was that trains were stacked up at Westfield to go north. And trains were parked up on the Onehunga branch to go south.
    When people got to Papakura the flow out was quick and efficient. But some people were to late for the last shuttle to Pukekohe.
    It was good to see Maori Wardens and Security still going.

  11. I thought everything went pretty well from what I saw. The train was full, that’s normal in the peak anyway. Good job AT.

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