Spectators queued for buses to transport them to the Opening Ceremony of the XXI Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, with some waiting two hours at Broadbeach South station — many gave up and took Uber. (AAP Image/Ed Jackson)
Spectators queued for buses to transport them to the Opening Ceremony of the XXI Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, with some waiting two hours at Broadbeach South station — many gave up and took Uber. (AAP Image/Ed Jackson)

Real reason for opening ceremony transport chaos

THREE motorcades of dignitaries - including royals - leaving the opening ceremony separately and not simultaneously as planned contributed to thousands of paying spectators stranded for hours.

Motorcades for Prince Charles and wife Camilla, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Governor-General Peter Cosgrove are being fingered as part of the day one transport debacle by a high-level source.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at the Opening Ceremony of the Commonwealth Games at Carrara Stadium on the Gold Coast. (AAP Image/Darren England)
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at the Opening Ceremony of the Commonwealth Games at Carrara Stadium on the Gold Coast. (AAP Image/Darren England)

A major bottleneck of departing ticketholders after the Commonwealth Games showpiece at Carrara's stadium on Wednesday night led to families and elderly not leaving on a final bus until almost three hours after it ended.

"Two things happened that delayed the ability for people to get away from the stadium. It took 25 minutes for the dignitary motorcades to leave.

"They were supposed to leave together. They left separately and there were required security protocols around it," the source, close to transport arrangements, said.

Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall at the Opening Ceremony of the XXI Commonwealth Games at Carrara Stadium on the Gold Coast — a well-placed source has revealed the motorcades of dignitaries leaving separately instead of simultaneously as planned contributed to major delays clearing spectators afterwards. (AAP Image/Darren England)
Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall at the Opening Ceremony of the XXI Commonwealth Games at Carrara Stadium on the Gold Coast — a well-placed source has revealed the motorcades of dignitaries leaving separately instead of simultaneously as planned contributed to major delays clearing spectators afterwards. (AAP Image/Darren England)

"The plan was for them to leave together but they left separately, which is probably not optimal.

Stranded ceremony goers still there at 1am included Weipa mum Sandy Aldcroft, holding her sleeping four-year-old Mia.

"You have to expect you are going to have to wait but not two-and-a-half hours," Ms Aldcroft said.

The dignitaries did not need the dedicated Games lanes set aside for athletes as under strict security protocols there could not be any other moving vehicles on the routes.

Pictured outside the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony at 1am, still waiting on a bus ride, after the ceremony finished at 10.45pm are Sandy Aldcroft and her daughter Mia, 4, of Weipa. Picture: Mike Batterham
Pictured outside the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony at 1am, still waiting on a bus ride, after the ceremony finished at 10.45pm are Sandy Aldcroft and her daughter Mia, 4, of Weipa. Picture: Mike Batterham

"Basically, they had to leave the zone first and all the athletes then had priority to get home as quickly as they can to rest and be ready for the Games and that's understandable," the source told the Bulletin.

"Once those two things happen then everyone was able to move."

Asked about revelations of the VIP motorcades going one by one, instead of simultaneously and contributing to delays, under-pressure Queensland Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey passed the buck: "That would be a matter for (Games organising committee) GOLDOC.

"We were given a time when things could move and that was out of our control."

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GOLDOC referred to the Queensland Police Service (QPS) which didn't respond directly to Bulletin questions about the motorcades going separately.

"Motorcades will be utilised to transport Internationally Protected Persons (IPPs) which will include temporarily restricting road and pedestrian access for short periods of time," a QPS statement said.

"For security reasons the QPS does not comment on specific arrangements for IPP movements. Every attempt is made to keep disruptions to a minimum."

The ceremony finished at 10.35pm but the final bus full of spectators did not depart to Broadbeach South Station until 1.15am.

On the way to the opening, some ticketholders who used the Broadbeach South transport station had to wait two hours before getting a bus. Sydney resident Leonie Curtis said: "This isn't a holiday, this is torture ... the most disgustingly organised event I could imagine."

Queensland Minister for Transport and Main Roads, Mark Bailey. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)
Queensland Minister for Transport and Main Roads, Mark Bailey. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

Mr Bailey said based on dress rehearsals, organisers planned on 3000 using the depot but 5000 descended on it off the light rail, overwhelming the number of buses allocated.

"We had 2000 extra people rolling up to Broadbeach south. But we identified that pretty quickly and immediately dispatched 23 extra buses."

Mr Bailey, who came under fire for tweeting dismissively on Wednesday night about the holdups, said yesterday Broadbeach South was cleared by 6.45pm and no one missed the 8pm opening.

"I apologise to people who had to wait longer than we would've preferred and they wouldn't preferred and we're working to rectify that."

City bus company Surfside, who missed the Games transport contract to country Victoria contractor, was called to help clear the bottlenecks, Mr Bailey admitted.

He dismissed calls by LNP Shadow Steve Minniken and Deputy Leader Tim Mander for his sacking.

"The LNP were on track for a disastrous Games on a transport front," Mr Bailey said, saying they had no plan to duplicate heavy rail from Helensvale to Coomera or build Light Rail stage 2 fast-tracked over the past 18 months.

Mr Bailey said constant improvements based on travel patterns from day one would be made to Games transport.



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