By Ian Ransom
GOLD COAST, Australia (Reuters) – Gold Coast organizers apologized on Thursday after the public transport network failed its first major test of the Commonwealth Games, causing long delays for ticket-holders traveling to and from the opening ceremony.
Hundreds of people had to wait up to two hours at an over-flowing bus station before Wednesday’s ceremony due to a shortage of shuttles, and hundreds more were held up from leaving Carrara Stadium after a bus broke down and jammed up the transport flow.
“We did experience, of course, as it has been reported, some issues there at Broadbeach South where some people had to wait longer than we would have preferred,” Queensland state transport minister Mark Bailey said at a media briefing.
“I can be quite frank and I absolutely upfront apologize to those people who were caught in that situation.
“We’ll keep working every day. What we saw was the first real event of the Games yesterday and we made some adjustments there and we’ll keep working hard to ensure that people move around efficiently.”
Twenty-three extra buses were despatched to ferry people to the stadium when officials realized the scale of the log-jam but it did little to prevent seething ticket-holders from demanding their money back.
Organizers held a dress rehearsal for the opening ceremony for some 16,000 spectators and volunteers over the weekend but were caught off guard by the flow of some 43,000 spectators and participants, a record crowd at Carrara, for the real thing on Wednesday.
Organizing committee CEO Mark Peters would not rule out more delays through the quadrennial showpiece which continues to April 15.
“We saw some delays, they’ve been identified, so what we’re planning about is if anyone thinks you’re going to be perfect, then you’re a lunatic,” he said.
“When you plan, you plan to be successful but you also understand that sometimes you need plan Bs.
“There will be delays … That’s just the reality in major events.”
In a separate incident, two police officers were taken to hospital with injuries after their motorcycles collided when escorting British royal family member Prince Charles to the opening ceremony.
“One remains in hospital, he does have fractures and some serious injuries but he will be fine, so we’re very pleased that that’s worked out that way,” the Games’ police chief Steve Gollschewski told reporters.
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)