SEARCH 2000 Games

Tuesday, August 1, 2000
Olympic transport: no worries, mate

 SYDNEY, Australia (AP) -- Despite derailments, angry commuters and major rail delays in recent weeks, Olympic organizers are confident of smooth transportation during the games.

 No worries -- an all-encompassing Australian phrase that translates into either no problem, don't be concerned or thank you -- have become the catchwords of Olympic officials with 45 days until the opening ceremony.

 Still, there are concerns.

 Compounding the rail problems, Sydney Airport's control tower had its second power outage in less than a month Tuesday, grounding aircraft for hours. The outage again set alarm bells ringing as the airport's busiest weeks approach with the Sept. 15 start of the games.

 "If they can't get it right now, how will they do with the Olympics?" was a typical response from stranded passengers.

 New South Wales Premier Bob Carr, whose state government is underwriting the Olympics, said he wants assurances from the federal government that the outage will not be repeated during the games.

 Transport Minister John Anderson called an urgent meeting to discuss measures to prevent a recurrence during the Olympics.

 The airport strife occurred on the day organizers began intensifying Olympic preparations.

 Venue managers and their teams are operating more aggressively and staffing is building, with the Olympic Village to open the first week of September.

 A 132-page spectator guide was also released. It encourages spectators to be almost as meticulous about planning their schedule as the 10,000 athletes who will be competing.

 David Richmond, the Olympic Coordination Authority's director-general, said he couldn't guarantee that all spectators using public transportation would get to the Olympics on time.

 But he said he was confident that derailments would not cause major delays at games time because teams of troubleshooters and equipment had been assigned to all parts of the rail network.

 With venue construction completed well in advance and with September and October traditionally Sydney's driest months, IOC officials say transportation is the only major area of concern.

 There will be no parking at any of Sydney's major games venues, so organizers are encouraging all spectators to take a train or bus to the Olympics -- and to leave plenty of time to get there.

 The aging public transportation system is expected to carry about 34 million passengers during the 16 days of the games, including at least 18 million trips by Olympic spectators.

 Recently released figures showed that one in five trains ran behind schedule on the Sydney network but games organizers were confident of keeping a tight timetable, involving at least 419 trains per day to the main Olympic precinct at Homebush Bay.

 Olympic Roads and Transport Authority chief Bob Leece said organizers would not hold up competitive events regardless of problems on public transport.

 "The rail system should cope," Leece said. "We've done our contingency planning. If people plan their time and go early, we're confident we'll be running the events on time."

 Richmond said the Olympic Arrangement Act imposed strict limitations on motorists and gave organizers the authority to clear roads for priority transit.

 He said buses would be kept in reserve and mobilized to ferry Olympic ticket-holders to alternative transportation sites or Olympic venues if derailments blocked the rail network.

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