The XVII Commonwealth Games Manchester - July/August 2002 ?Transporting the Games to Success?

The XVII Commonwealth Games Manchester - July/August 2002 ?Transporting the Games to Success?


D Newton, FaberMaunsell; K Howcroft, Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive, UK




This abstract is submitted under the theme of ?Local Public Transport? as a joint submission by GMPTE and FaberMaunsell. The abstract and the presentation describe the planning and delivery of the spectator transport systems for the XVII Commonwealth Games (the Games), held in Manchester between the 25th July and the 4th August 2002.

Following this introduction, the abstract details the background to the Games and goes on to discuss the initial planning undertaken in relation to the overall transport strategy. The critical organisation strategy is then explained which helped to oversee the more detailed and complex planning. The use of micro-simulation technology is presented, particularly in the context of the final strategy implementation and delivery.

Finally, conclusions are offered with an emphasis on the views expressed by the users of the transport strategy for the Games.


The Games, the largest multi-sports event ever to be held in the UK, showcased 17 sports involving 72 nations. Approximately 1 million spectators visited Manchester during the 10 days of events with an estimated 1 billion television viewers worldwide.

The transportation of the Games ?Family? (3,700 athletes, 3,500 media, 3,000 VIP?s and 1,000 technical officials) was in itself a major undertaking particularly given the 15 competition venues, 15 dedicated training venues, three villages, four road events and 10 non-competition venues.

In addition to the Games Family, the Games were supported by over 10,000 volunteers spread across all the venues. The transport needs of this group also had to be factored into the overall transport strategy for the Games.

With 1 million people coming to Manchester during the 10 days of the Games transport was always going to be a major issue in ensuring the successful delivery of the Games. The aim was to strike the right balance between all modes ? walking, public transport and car whilst making sure that Manchester, Greater Manchester and the North West continued to function.

In terms of the Games venues the main concentration was at Sportcity, home to the 38,000 seater capacity City of Manchester Stadium, the Table Tennis Centre, National Squash Centre and the National Cycling Centre. Manchester city centre was also home to another cluster of venues. Combined with further outlying venues and the road events the Games transport demands would be sure to test any transport network.

Initial Planning

After extensive consultation with Olympic and Commonwealth Games bodies, M2002 (the company established to run the Games) commissioned Faber Maunsell (then Oscar Faber) in December 2000 to undertake a transport study on the potential impacts of the Games.

The study report produced in May 2001 contained the results from a series of modelling exercises and used the anticipated busiest day of Tuesday 30th August, attracting an estimated 114,000 spectators, to demonstrate the significant transport needs across the whole of Greater Manchester.

The report offered detailed suggestions on how best to develop the strategy with the overall demand for a robust, comprehensive and integrated transport strategy. It was recommended that the only way to deliver such a strategy was through a multi-agency Games Transport Action Group.

Organisation Strategy

Given GMPTE?s prime responsibility for public transport in Greater Manchester and its relationship with transport operators of all modes, all key stakeholders recognised GMPTE?s unique and essential role in ensuring that spectators and visitors reached the Games venues across the county.

Consequently, the Director General of GMPTE announced the establishment of a Steering Group to oversee the development and delivery of a Games ?Public Transport Strategy?. The Steering Group included representatives from the following organisations who in effect were to become the Transport Partners:

* M2002
* Manchester City Council (MCC)
* Greater Manchester Police (GMP)
* The Highways Agency (HA)
* Government Office for the North West (GONW)

Programme managers MACE played a vital role in bringing together all the parties and in driving the timescales and budgets.

The Strategy

The initial principle of the strategy was to achieve a mode share of 50:50 public to private transport using a balanced approach of promoting public transport and providing for private transport whilst recognising the capacity of each mode.

Five delivery groups were tasked with planning and implementing the overall spectator transport strategy and the following sections highlight the various initiatives planned as part of the Public Transport Strategy:


* 7,000 park and ride spaces across three sites ? Manchester United Football Club, Lancashire County Cricket Club and Heaton Park
* up to 9,000 park and walk spaces within 1 km of Sportcity
* a city centre strategy and specific solutions for outlying venues

Public Transport

* existing rail, bus, and metrolink networks maintained
* enhanced services - daytimes, evenings and night
* ticketing arrangements including the debate around free travel for ticket holders
* accessible with improved information

Stadium Shuttle

* dedicated bus services between the city centre and Sportcity
* free and frequent services with greater priority
* alternative ?City Link? walk route to and from the city centre
* temporary bus station at the heart of the Sportcity complex

Traffic Management

* traffic signal installation and improvements
* highway works and traffic management
* temporary and permanent traffic orders
* improved pedestrian and vehicle signage Communications

* web site with various transport linkages
* section in the official spectator guide
* Manchester Evening News supplements
* information kiosks and a call centre
* advertising campaign and community relations programme
* Games radio station

Further Planning

During the development of the detailed strategy the overall context of the Games changed in several major areas.

Firstly, increased concerns over security had a significant effect on the environment in which the public transport systems were to operate. Secondly, ticket sales expectations increased dramatically due to continuing high sales of tickets across sports and venues. Thirdly, increases in the number of athletes applying to take part led to additional ticketed sessions and a compression of event timings resulting in greater spectator numbers together with certain days where ?contra-flow? of spectators between sessions would add considerable pressure on the transport systems.

Following more detailed modelling based on previous and ?live? ticket sales data, the decision was taken by the Steering Group to provide an over capacity in the transport networks particularly to deal with the days at Sportcity with significant ?contra-flow? demands.

The additional capacity was to be provided by the increased provision of park and ride spaces (and the subsequent numbers of shuttle buses serving the sites), extra Stadium Shuttle services and some overflow park and walk spaces.

In addition, a further decision was taken to establish a park and ride pre-booking service using the various ticketing databases and other communication strategies as a starting point. The aim of the service was essentially to provide intelligence to the overall strategy and to ?sell? park and ride as the only sensible use of the car, by spectators, during the Games.

The Use of Micro-Simulation

The phenomenal ticket sales and the changes to the events schedules required a considerable re-think of the strategy. The impacts needed a thorough assessment at Sportcity, the city centre and the park and ride sites.

FaberMaunsell were already assisting M2002 with the pedestrian strategy for the Stadium, assessing pedestrian flows that could be accommodated through the security systems and identifying the level of equipment and staffing that would be needed to ensure that all spectators were delivered in sufficient time prior to events.

The added complication was that on specific days the Sportcity bus station, the security systems and the pedestrian entry/exits and concourses would need to safely accommodate bi-directional flows. It was clear that additional measures would be needed in order to safely facilitate this significant logistical challenge.

In order to properly understand the issues and deliver the necessary solutions on the ground FaberMaunsell were commissioned to produce a VISSIM micro-simulation model. A variety of options were tested particularly at the interface between the bus station and the entry and exit ?Mag and Bag? security systems. The VISSIM models ultimately helped to turn the strategies into reality and assisted the final sign off by the safety professionals.

The Outcome & Conclusions

The successful delivery of the Games Transport Strategy has left a very positive mark on Greater Manchester. The success of the public transport aspects of the strategy was a fantastic achievement in itself and clearly demonstrates what can be achieved when a true ?partnership? is formed between the public and private sector.

Some of the headline figures are that an estimated 1 million public transport trips were made by spectators to and from Games events and that some 200,000 car journeys were taken off the road, saving around 800,000 car miles.

Focussing on Sportcity, each day with a full programme saw, on average:

* 7,500 cars parked at park and ride sites
* 35,000 spectators using the Stadium Shuttle
* 10,000 people using the City Link walk route
* 2,500 spectators using coaches
* very low usage of the park and walk sites by spectators

A full breakdown of the costs associated with the delivery of the transport strategy will form part of the presentation. The detailed Games time role of the Games Communication Centre will also be explained in more detail.

Approximately 80% of Sportcity spectators used some form of public transport and the overall impression is one of a Games audience willing to listen to key messages promoting public transport, and of a local population adhering to the messages encouraging them not to use critical routes during the Games.

Transport along with all other aspects of the Games received widespread praise and GMPTE are currently finalising the results of a survey of 10,000 spectators regarding their usage and views of public transport during the Games.

The key lesson is that a comprehensive, clear and robust transport strategy is vital for a successful and efficient spectator operation. The strategy provided a solid foundation for planning and operation, even when reviewed and revisited in the run up to the Games. Furthermore, the multi-agency partnership enabled a speedy and pragmatic approach to problem solving with the use of micro-simulation technology adding an extra dimension.

However, despite all the planning and contingency scenarios, Games time presented some exciting and interesting transport challenges.

The major challenge, now that the Games are over, is to maintain and build on the successful partnerships that have been developed and strengthened in order to deliver lasting change in travel behaviour and to continue the regeneration programmes of which the Games were very much an integral part.


Association for European Transport