Monday, September 12, 2011

Blood On The Dance Floor

Oh dear! Last week’s quote (about Friday’s *yawn* RWC 2011 opening) from well-meaning Auckland mayor Len Brown well and truly bit him on the bum: “Think about where you’re going to be, your transport options, whether you head to the waterfront, and make a plan. Then sit back and really enjoy the best party this city has ever seen.”
Well, many thousands did think, did plan, did use public transport... and did get screwed! And tomorrow, the Auckland Council will be demanding blood.
Not all blame lies with Veolia (responsible for the train service) for the transport SNAFUs. Yes, there were dorks pushing emergency buttons. But Veolia (which describes itself as "the world's leading private public transport operator"…hello!) will receive many strokes of the cane, for trains running late or not at all, or sitting fully-laden for so long that frustrated passengers got out and started walked down the tracks.
Queued up for a spanking must be the pillicks who didn’t allow enough space, for passengers to disembark from the Devonport ferries – and thus they were cancelled for the evening!
Another spanking must be delivered to whoever thought it was a grand idea to erect that giant rugby ball in a prime viewing spot, thus denying breathing space to hundreds more!
And speaking of space, totally inadequate thought went into anticipating how much space would be needed to safely hold the 200K-strong multitude that turned up! Just what did they think they were arranging: a Sunday picnic? Needed was experienced event management personnel who’d successfully handled monster open-air action, not some "party planners"!
I’ve spoken to several people who were the filling in the Party Central sandwich on Friday night. They mentioned crowd control that was a contradiction in terms, drunken fights, big viewing screens without a view, not enough portable toilets, volunteers who could barely speak English, crowds so large that some fell off the wharf into the water, children and elderly people jostled and fearful of being crushed, police unable to cope… wasn't
MY fault, mummy...!
World Cup Minister Muddling McCully says he’ll not apologise for the mess, but vows to make improvements in crowd and transport management. "Auckland's public transport system failed to deliver to the required standard. In spite of reasonably successful trial events, it was short of the standard required.” Reasonably successful trials? Jeez, guy, who’s been briefing you? All of Auckland could see that each of those ‘trial runs’ showed grievous systemic failures, that weren't fixed. And er, by the way, as Minister responsible for the World Cup, why the hell shouldn’t you apologise for this debacle? The buck stops with you – or will you try to dump it all onto Auckland Council?
There’s been plenty of praise for the actual ceremony. Whether you felt it was outstanding – or a tacky ceremony filled with clichés and stereotypes – at least the fireworks were stunning! But after six full years of planning and 18 months of frenzied hype, the rest was little short of a disaster.
Tomorrow’s crunch council meeting may well shut the stable door... but the nag has long gone!
PS: 12 Sept.2011 - Prime Minister John Key ain't impressed!
PS: 13 Sept.2011 - Our train system ranked 'Third World' by World Economic Forum!

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