Transport Minister Michael Wood, AM hosts slam Auckland Transport for suggesting Sir Elton John concertgoers drive to Mt Smart

Auckland Transport has come under fire from the Transport Minister and AM hosts for suggesting Sir Elton John concertgoers drive to Mt Smart Stadium on Friday and Saturday nights. 

AT said in a statement the Penrose train station will be closed on Friday due to the current stage of the Rail Network Rebuild and no trains will be running on Saturday.

"To take advantage of the generally low passenger numbers over the long weekend, Auckland's rail network will be closed, meaning no trains will be running, on Saturday," said AT.

AT added on its Facebook page: "Heading to see Elton John? Plan your journey in advance and travel early if you can. Driving to the concert is recommended, but if you can't there are public transport options included in your concert ticket." 

Transport Minister Michael Wood was taken aback on AM on Friday by the decision. 

"I saw that last night on social media, I thought it was pretty weird, to be honest. We need to be using these big events to be encouraging public transport," Wood told AM. 

Transport Minister Michael Wood.
Transport Minister Michael Wood. Photo credit: AM

It wasn't just Wood who didn't agree with the decision. AM hosts were in disbelief, saying it was a stupid decision. 

"Three years we have been waiting to see Elton John, three long years because of COVID-19," AM co-host Ryan Bridge said on the show on Friday. 

"Finally, he is here in the City of Sails, finally, he is here in Auckland and our public transport agency says take your car." 

AT said there will be 255 free car parks at two local businesses from 4pm on the day of the concerts and will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

There will also be a further 506 free, non-time limited car parking available on streets that are within a 2km walk from Mt Smart Stadium, AT said.

But with the shows on Friday and Saturday close to selling out, there will be a lot of people struggling to find car parks.  

On top of that, Auckland is expected to be hit hard by wind, rain and thunderstorms on Friday and Saturday meaning concertgoers could get soaked before they even get into the venue. 

"We've got rain, we've got high winds, we've got humidity. That poncho is going to become a sweat suit, a hothouse," Bridge said. 

"If you are going to be wearing your ponchos, you're going to be hot underneath. You're going to be wet on top and what more, Auckland Transport is telling you to either drive your own car or walk. I timed it this morning, from our officers here in central Auckland to Mt Smart Stadium, an hour and 48 minutes it's going to take me to walk tonight." 

Bridge added: "Does this not seem like the stupidest idea?"

AM co-host Ryan Bridge.
AM co-host Ryan Bridge. Photo credit: AM

But fellow AM co-host Melissa Chan-Green had an idea which could help concertgoers. 

"When I go to concerts, as often as I can, it doesn't always work, you get someone earlier in the day to drive with you there," Chan-Green said.  

"So you take two cars, park one of them, leave and then you get a taxi there later because getting a taxi to an event is easy. Then after the event, you just walk to the car you have parked."