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September 7, 2000
Sydney's transport revampedJulien Linden
Sydney Games organisers promised more staff and drivers on Thursday after Australia's Olympic chief blasted the transport system as "unacceptable".
Sydney 2000 director general David Richmond announced a series of changes he hopes will save Sydney from the troubles that plagued Atlanta in 1996.
"The decisions which have been taken are a measured but quick response to address the massive Olympic task," Richmond said.
The changes include an extra 20 administrative staff to oversee the running of the bus system, more drivers and better communication with the public.
The president of the Australian Olympic Committee, John Coates, criticised transport after buses failed to pick up athletes and the city's rail system collapsed.
Coates said the transport system was showing worrying signs of being unable to cope after a series of embarrassing bungles.
The single line rail system to the main Olympic site at Homebush Bay collapsed on Tuesday when overhead wires were blown down by strong winds. A day later, a train ran off the tracks, causing more delays to Olympic Park.
Of greater concern was the problem with athletes.
A bus arrived two hours late to pick up Australia's shooting team from the athletes' village on Tuesday.
Another bus, which was supposed to take the water polo team to practice, failed to show up at all.
Media have also complained that their buses have either been late or their drivers got lost.
"We always experience teething problems but we have to make sure these are just teething problems," Coates said.
While transport is critical to the success of any Olympics, local politicians have been warning residents and visitors to expect long delays.
One minister, in a statement that upset environmentalists, even suggested people consider driving their cars rather that risk catching trains.
The International Olympic Committee said on Thursday that it was concerned about Sydney's transport system but was confident city planners could solve the problems before the Games open on September 15.
"Transport is always a major concern, not just for Sydney, but for every city," IOC director-general Francois Carrard said.
"There have been problems but that is not a surprise. The planning is extremely good here and we have every confidence they will sort it out."
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