Auckland Transport boss grilled on AM over three-hour traffic chaos at Westfield Newmarket mall

  • 28/11/2023

Auckland Transport's boss is promising solutions after motorists spent hours in traffic to leave a major shopping centre carpark earlier this month.  

Westfield Newmarket shoppers were forced to wait in their cars for up to three hours on Sunday, November 19, with traffic grinding to a halt as customers tried to leave the shopping centre carpark.     

It was reported one woman wet herself while waiting in the backlog, which the boss of AT said was "terrible".  

AT chief executive officer Dean Kimpton told AM on Tuesday morning on that particular day there were 70,000 people in and around Newmarket, which played a part in the traffic chaos.  

"I understand what happened at Westfield Newmarket and the queues were significant. The queue getting into that shopping mall, because the carpark was full, was longer and came around the corner and blocked the queue that was trying to get out," he explained.   

"We had significant issues there, both as a mall but also as Auckland Transport. We work with all the shopping mall owners to try and get on top of this, how they manage car parking, how they communicate with their customers, and signage to let them know what's going on. We've asked them to promote public transport." 

He urged anyone looking to go to the mall in Newmarket to plan ahead and consider taking public transportation if possible. 

"My message is as a consumer as somebody who wants to go and shop, have a think about how I'm going to get there and maybe time it," he said.  

"If you're a shopping mall owner, think about how you're managing your traffic just like I do. Your customers are our customers. If their customers can't get on the road network, then we're concerned about it." 

When asked by AM co-host Ryan Bridge if the backlog in the car parking building was due to the gridlock on the road, Kimpton said he "doesn't accept that".  

"Three hours in a car park wasn't a function of what was happening just on the roads. There were 70,000 other people also trying to move around Newmarket and not all of them came from Westfield. We have to cater for everybody," he explained.  

He told AM his message to frustrated motorists who get stuck in gridlock traffic at these major malls is that AT is committed to providing the best service possible.  

"We're absolutely committed to listening to what our customers and communities are saying and giving the best service we can and I think we are doing that," he said.  

"We have seen a significant increase in satisfaction with the services that we offer and trust and confidence. Twenty-point increase on satisfaction, 10 percent increase in trust and confidence. So we are moving in the right direction, we're absolutely committed to doing that and will continue to do so." 

Watch the full interview for more.