Home About the Association Become a Member Register for Newsletters/Updates Contact Us
Tell a Neighbour/Friend
Community Links
Association Rules
Privacy Policy - Terms & Conditions
Sports followers to enjoy free public transport
Thursday February 14, 2008
By Mathew Dearnaley

Sports fans heading to three big matches in Auckland in the next two days will be offered free public transport if they show their event tickets when boarding buses or trains.

The Eden Park Trust Board has secured a deal with the Auckland Regional Transport Authority for free rail travel to be included in tickets to tomorrow's one-day cricket international between the Black Caps and England, and to the Blues-Chiefs Super 14 rugby match on Saturday night.

Some free buses from central Auckland and North Shore will also be available for the Super 14 game, and rugby league fans will get to travel along the Northern Busway to North Harbour Stadium for the Vodafone Warriors-Newcastle Knights pre-season clash tomorrow night.

The trust board and the stadium management assured fans yesterday that ticket prices were not being inflated to cover the cost of free travel.

Trust board general manager Murray Reade said his organisation saw public transport as essential to the efficient movement of fans to and from its ground, especially in the lead-up to the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

We want to make it great for our patrons, and part of that is public transport," he said.

Although the board had to apologise to cricket fans after a ticket collection botch-up last week meant thousands missed up to an hour of the Twenty20 Black Caps-England showpiece match, Mr Reade said many others already with tickets enjoyed free rail trips in a pioneering deal with the transport authority.

He promised fans that extra staff would be available at the park for this weekend's games, as well as more signs "to ensure patrons can easily find the correct gate".

The trust board and its event partners had reviewed last week's event in details and concluded more staff and streamlined ticketing and entry procedures would have avoided delays.

"We acknowledge that collecting tickets wasn't as straight-forward as it could have been and that staffing levels for the food and beverage outlets were also less than optimal for a crowd of nearly 30,000."

Although the transport authority emphasised that the free travel was being sponsored by event hosts, North Harbour Harbour Stadium finance manager Sue Belin said her organisation was offered a favourable deal in recognition of its promotion of the new $300 million busway.

"We love buses," she said of the stadium's support for the busway and the use of public transport to ease event congestion.

Although a normal day pass for unlimited bus travel between Albany and Britomart costs $10.80, she said there was no transport component in $15 general-admission tickets to the rugby league.

The transport authority said about 4000 people travelled to the cricket at Eden Park last Friday by rail, of whom about 2100 enjoyed free trips as they already held tickets to the match.

Customer services general manager Mark Lambert said combining rail or bus trips with big events was part of the authority's drive to encourage people to try public transport and enjoy benefits such as no parking charges, easy access, and "the ability to enjoy hospitality following the game without endangering anyone on the road".