'Significantly improved' cup experience promised

Auckland Rugby World Cup fans going to games and the waterfront this weekend will have a "significantly improved" experience, says Transport Minister Steven Joyce.

Rugby World Cup Minister Murray McCully is expected to today sign off on a Government plan for the Auckland waterfront for the rest of the tournament, following chaotic scenes last Friday night.

McCully announced on Tuesday the Government would take charge of an expanded waterfront fan zone, and said inadequate planning played a significant part in chaos on the waterfront and transport problems on the Cup's opening night.

Auckland Council reports released yesterday showed there were an estimated 200,000 people on the waterfront, far in excess of the 80,000 that could fit into the area.

There were not enough toilets, and big screens were in the wrong places and failed to work, it said.

Joyce said the report made "concerning reading".

However, he had now been assured by Auckland Council and Auckland Transport that changes would be made.

They included making 100 extra buses available, having 40 extra security staff at Britomart, taking the number to 100, and putting security staff on every train carriage.

Joyce said the changes meant Auckland Transport should be able to respond to any issues which arose this weekend but he said he could not completely guarantee the safety of fans on public transport.

"All transport involves some risk but I can certainly say... it will be a very, very significantly improved experience."

Fans should make their own call about what transport was most appropriate for them to use, he said.

More people were expected to use private transport this weekend and fans were advised to travel early.

A separate council report on transport also released by the council yesterday said 370,000 people travelled on public transport over a 20-hour period - well in excess of the 240,000 of a normal weekday and "substantially greater" than had been planned for.

Stuff