Coldplay concert transport tangle 'won't be repeated'

Event organisers say traffic problems at the Coldplay concert on New Year's Eve, which forced some fans to walk three hours to find taxis, will be avoided at future events.

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ABU DHABI // A lack of public transport at Coldplay's New Year's Eve concert meant some fans had to walk almost three hours to find taxis when the event ended just after midnight.
The Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) said that such problems would be avoided at future events. Both the Abu Dhabi Police Department and TransAD were not available for comment.
Shuttle buses and taxi drop-off points will help ease traffic to the venue during the rest of the two-week stopover of the Volvo Ocean Race, however, ADTA said.
"The Coldplay concert aside, we are confident that the transport options in place - taxi, the park-and-ride complimentary shuttle bus from the Corniche and the amount of parking available around the Destination Village vicinity - will be sufficient to handle the level of traffic coming to the village," an ADTA representative said in a statement.
The Volvo Ocean Race Destination Village opened on Saturday.
Additional taxis were on hand and shuttle buses were provided from the Corniche car park adjacent to the Hilton to the concert site, but it was not enough for the estimated 25,000 attending.
"We walked the streets for almost three hours and no one would pick anyone up," said Michelle Leboutte, who had travelled from Ras Al Khaimah with her husband for the concert. "We finally got a taxi after 2.30, and then we realised our hotel was a minute away and we'd walked all the way from the Breakwater to our hotel."
The concert promoter Flash said security and safety were top priorities.
"Flash does acknowledge there were delays on the night," a Flash statement said. "As with all major events in Abu Dhabi, a thorough security system was implemented at the doors. Whilst this did ensure no major incidents on the night, it did lead to some delays for people entering the venue. However, immediately prior to the band performing at 10.45pm, more than 25,000 people were inside the venue with no queues outside."
Taxi drivers said there was no incentive to go to the Corniche.
"The Corniche had too many crowds," said Umar Ghani, a driver. "Yas Island is good, there is no crowd, they don't waste our taxi time. On the Corniche we will sit there for three hours. I would not go to the Corniche - too many people, too many crowds."
Zulqarnain Khan, a driver from Pakistan, said he made seven trips to the venue after being instructed to do so by his company, despite the low fares and heavy traffic.
He went home shortly before midnight after a 13-hour shift.
"My customers told me to stop the car and go to sleep or I would have an accident," he said.
Kawthar bin Sulayem, 27, an Emirati, fared better in her own car and quickly found parking in the Marina Mall basement car park about 8pm. "But on the way out, it was a bit crazy," she said. "It was too busy because, you know, when they were getting people in they were letting them in batches but they released everyone at once."
Saleem Khokhar, 40, from the UK, paid a man Dh100 to give up his parking space at Marina Mall. His return journey to Al Raha Gardens took four hours, including an hour and a quarter to go 1,000 metres from the Marina Mall car park to the Corniche after the concert. The two-lane road is the only road on to the Breakwater.
"We didn't use public transport, but from what I saw, that wasn't much better," Mr Khokhar said.
But he said it would not deter him from returning. "I would go back, it was a very good concert, it was worth it at the end of the day. Everybody was quite patient; it was all good natured. That made it bearable," he said.