By Tom Degun

Hambantota 2018_Games_Park_day_28-10-11November 6 - The Hambantota 2018 bid team have revealed that 100 per cent of spectators attending a potential Commonwealth Games in the Sri Lankan city will arrive at the competition venues by public transport, which would be made free for all ticket holders.

Hambantota are bidding against Australia's Gold Coast for the 2018 competition, with the winning bid set to be decided in St Kitts and Nevis on Friday (November 11) at the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) General Assembly, and the Sri Lankan's have played a major trump card ahead of the vote by announcing their plans for hosting a "Public Transport Games".

The transport strategy builds on historically low car use in Sri Lanka and will revolve around an upgraded, high-capacity public bus and rail service, and Games-time Park and Ride shuttles that promise easy access to competition venues.

The Park and Ride services will be provided for all arrivals at three main surface transport hubs and airport and rail stations, while spectators will be able to access the Games Park in less than 35 minutes from all dedicated hotel clusters via Games-time shuttle services.

Meanwhile, private car use will be discouraged, with non-Games vehicles kept away from the Games Park to reduce delays and congestion.

The plans also show a dedicated "Bus Corridor" giving priority to buses and cycle routes throughout the region, with 1,000 new, air conditioned buses to be procured in advance of the Games in part of a wider scheme to put in place an economically and environmentally sustainable transport strategy that will deliver benefits in 2018 and beyond.

Ajith Nivard_Cabraal_28-10-11
"Our concept is for a public transport Games, with 100 per cent of spectators arriving at venues by public transport," said Hambantota 2018 bid co-chairman and Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka Ajith Nivard Cabraal (pictured).

"We will provide spectators with a reliable, comfortable, safe and efficient connection.

"Spectators arriving by road, rail, or landing at Hambantota International Airport will be directed to one of five Commonwealth Games Transport Hubs.

"Here they will be taken to the Games Park by a fleet of Park and Ride shuttles and dropped at one of two Games Park Spectator Transport Malls to the north and south of the Games Park, each is within walking distance of the venues.

"This will ensure that there are no private spectator vehicles near the Games Park itself.

"By fully utilising public transport, we will create a legacy of future public transport use.

"The Games will help make Park and Ride, bus and rail the modes of choice for the future, limiting growth in car use across the Southern Province.

"It will deliver a positive legacy for the whole region."

Hambantota is currently undergoing radical transformation to become one of five metro cities in Sri Lanka and subsequently a strategic hub for economic development, tourism growth and regeneration initiatives.

A number of major infrastructure developments are already underway in the region, including the construction of a 55-kilometre brand new highway and upgrades to 297 kilometres of existing highways

Hambantota have also opened a new $1.2 billion (£746 million/€847 million) seaport that is due to be officially completed by 2014, while Hambantota International Airport, which will be within 13km of the Games Park, is scheduled to open in 2012 and will serve both domestic and international routes.

On completion of the second phase of the development of the airport in 2017, it will handle four million passengers per year.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

Related stories
November 2011: Army take over control of Hambantota stadium
November 2011: Former cricketers to lead Hambantota 2018 for final presentation
November 2011: Exclusive - Race for 2018 Commonwealth Games will come down to final presentations, predicts Keino
October 2011: Hambantota 2018 have a "compelling argument" admits rival bid leader
October 2011: Hambantota Commonwealth Games boost after Sri Lanka confirmed as host of next CHOGM