Bus debacle: hundreds stranded until 1am

 

GAMES organisers will this morning have the chance to explain the phenomenal failure of their transport system which left thousands of people stranded on their ways to and from the opening ceremony last night.

Buses north and south were still leaving Carrara Stadium at 1am.

It was more than two-and-a-half hours after the Games opening showpiece finished at 10.35pm.

At one bus stop headed north to one of Helensvale's biggest park n ride facilities at Millaroo North, thousands of people queued as two transport stewards loaded one bus at a time.

People who required help with accessibility queued separately from the stadium, only to be merged with the general crowd at the bus stops, meaning the full queues waited as walking frames and wheelchairs were loaded piece by piece as empty buses waited behind.

The debacle came just hours after Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey declared the transport plan a huge success after the opening ceremony rehearsals.

A long queue of hundreds, and up to over a 1000, was at a standstill, at the departure point for buses to Broadbeach South from 11pm. It included pensioners with pacemakers and young children.

Judy and Bruce Harris with their daughter Dimity after the Opening ceremony: Picture Ryan Keen.
Judy and Bruce Harris with their daughter Dimity after the Opening ceremony: Picture Ryan Keen.

Volunteer Games Shapers started bringing out chairs for elderly people and continually apologised over megaphones for the "delays and inconvenience".

At one point they started trying to get a singalong happening while another told jokes. But not many were laughing.

Magistrate Donald MacKenzie was among those caught in the bus debacle on the way to last nights opening ceremony, he told solicitors in the Southport Magistrates Court this morning.

"The ceremony itself was very good, it was the five hours waiting for the bus to and from that was the problem," he said.

Sandy Aldcroft and her daughter Mia 4 of Weipa. Picture Mike Batterham
Sandy Aldcroft and her daughter Mia 4 of Weipa. Picture Mike Batterham

Just after 1am, queuing Weipa mother Sandy Aldcroft - holding onto her sleepy four-year-old daughter Mia - said:

"The show was awesome. The wait was not so awesome. You have to expect you are going to have a wait but not two-and-a-half hours.

"(Mia) has just woken up and gone 'why are we still here?'."

Visitors from Caloundra Kerry Richards, 36, and Leona Adams, 37, were the last two to get on a bus about 1.15am. Prior to the ceremony starting, they were also caught in a transport debacle at the Broadbeach South transport hub.

COAST TRAFFIC SHOCK STARTS TODAY

Despite arriving at 5pm, they waited almost two hours before getting on a bus to the stadium.

There were big lines for the buses earlier in the evening. (AAP Image/Ed Jackson)
There were big lines for the buses earlier in the evening. (AAP Image/Ed Jackson)

"The logistics could have been a lot better," Mr Richards said.

"They knew this was going to be huge. Let's see how the next 11 days go, I wouldn't want to judge on this alone but it is hard not to.

"Let's just hope it gets better," he said, adding they had tickets to the marquee swimming racing.

Ms Adams, in Australia 15 years after moving from Czech Republic, said on the Gold Coast "everything is perfect except for the transport".

Leona Adams and Kerry Richards outside the stadium. Picture: Ryan Keen.
Leona Adams and Kerry Richards outside the stadium. Picture: Ryan Keen.

Asked what they would do when they got back to Broadbeach, Mr Richards said he planned to go to sleep.

But Ms Adams had other ideas: "I'm going out in Surfers Paradise, that's why I'm here."

Earlier on, as the true extent of the transport departure delays started to emerge, it filtered through the crowd that a bus had broken down, interrupting the normal flow.

But Brisbane visitor Dimity Harris - waiting with her father Bruce who is in his 80s and has a pacemaker - disagreed: "I don't understand why the shuttles aren't working. Something doesn't add up.

"It can't just be because one bus broke down."

Many complained there were not more access points to get onto buses that were waiting at the stadium as everyone spilled out.

The queuing system appeared to create the bottleneck, with many buses seemingly ready but no way for people further back in the queue to access them.

Robina's Zan Bond said after a "pretty good" opening ceremony the post-event transport was "terrible".

"Who organised the buses?"

She later posted to Facebook: "It's now 1am and we are still lining up for a bus to get to Broadbeach South. There has been lots of waiting for buses and loading each one has been slow.

"This has put a dampener on an interesting event."

Husband Keith said: "I knew we would need patience. We have never handled 35,000 people before and I just hope a lot of lessons are learned by this."

Last night LNP Shadow Transport Minister Steve Minniken said: "This is so disappointing and I feel all those people stranded whose opening ceremony experience had been ruined.

"(Premier) Annastacia Palaszczuk should have spent less time focusing on her ego and speeches and more time putting together an essential transport plan."

The driver of the final bus told passengers over the speaker system he only had authorisation to get people to Broadbeach South station.

"However, because it is way to early in the morning, if you have a stop you want me to stop at if you come up, I will pretend I didn't see it and let's all get home as quickly as possible."

One passenger yelled out "Coolangatta!" and everyone laughed - except for the person who said it.