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World Cup free rides may be hollow promise

Dec 18th, 2009 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

rwctransRUGBY fans forking out big bucks for quarter final rugby tickets in 2011 may have one less cost to worry about.

Wellington’s Westpac Stadium will host quarter final games on October 8 and 9 – and Greater Wellington Regional Council has promised free public transport for everyone that weekend.

The promise to provide free public transport throughout the Wellington region, including Kapiti and the Wairarapa, was part of Wellington’s bid to secure the sought-after quarter finals.

The GWRC, Wellington City Council, New Zealand Transport Agency and transport operators are working together on a transport management plan to cope with the influx of people expected in the region.

A draft NZTA transport plan states its goal for the tournament as the safe, convenient, and cost effective movement of people during the RWC to and from venues, and around the host cities and country.

The plan also makes note of the fact that reliable, efficient public transport is often the costliest part of planning.

However, the plan does not say who will be covering the cost of the free transport.

“It is noticeable that to date there is very little if any financial provision made for funding any necessary transport infrastructure or services,” the plan says.

“This raises serious concerns that some promises made to date cannot actually be met.”

Regional council public transport officer Brian Baxter says the council intends to pay for the costs associated with the free transport offer, although details are still being worked out.

Various cities around NZ will host games and teams, and attendance numbers are expected to reach almost 1.5 million during the tournament.

Hosting seven games, Wellington’s biggest draw card (aside from the All Blacks) is expected to be current World Cup holders South Africa.

With 90% capacity predicted, and a full Westpac Stadium holding almost 40,000 people, successful transport around games is vital, the plan says.

Regional council Cup project manager Tim Harrod says Wellington already has fantastic public transport infrastructure, so there is no need for new initiatives specifically designed for the 2011 tournament.

“We will be placing a heavy focus on utilising rail and bus from across the region. Both of these modes of transport are underway with pre-planned upgrades.”

Funding for the public transport upgrade was approved in 2005, with regional councillor Ian Buchanan saying at the time central and local government would invest more than $400 million over 10 years.

He conceded this would mean rates rises for residents.

The draft of the transport management plan is expected to be finished part way through next year.

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is a Whitireia Journalism student.
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