Published: 16:04, 16 July 2021
| Updated: 11:21, 17 July 2021
Tired spectators at The Open were caught up in traffic mayhem at the end of the first day of action last night exacerbated by a broken down Park & Ride bus.
And from there the planning consultant had a two-hour drive back to Essex.
She said she waited for more than an hour to board the packed transport, which cost £20 a day to park and get a lift to the golf course.
She then waited for more than 20 minutes before it could start moving.
The golf enthusiast said: "Apparently there was a bus broken down in Sandwich in the evening."
Amid her frustration she messaged KentOnline while sat on the bus and said: "[there are] hundreds of others are also waiting. The bus is packed with all seats full and people standing."
The service was provided by bus provider Stagecoach whose spokesman said: "We have extensive experience of running successful park and ride services for many high-profile events, including several golfing events.
"There was an isolated issue that involved one of our services breaking down and passengers were transferred onto an alternative service to complete their journey.
"We apologise to the people affected, whose journeys were also made longer by heavy road congestion out of our control.
"We are working closely with the event organisers to keep services running as smoothly as possible."
A spokesman from The R&A, which organises The Open, said: “We are working closely with our park and ride provider to ensure that should instances like this occur going forward appropriate steps are put in place to assist spectators.”
The town has experienced repeated gridlock and locals turned to Facebook to share their frustrations.
Yesterday one posted: "Traffic very heavy and stop/start all the way from bypass/eastry roundabout to Dover road/New street level crossing and St George’s road.
"Traffic backed up along bypass and from Eastry, and some queuing from Deal…..been like that since before 7.45am.
"Dover road/Deal road junction difficult to use because of golf traffic not leaving a space and ditto from St Bart's exit away from the level crossing.
"All these police and stewards, but obvious choke points not managed."
He added: "Pretty poor show. Town fairly empty except Strand Street to the Quay, and feed in from Harnet Street."
Today Colin Wiles posted pictures of the gridlock including buses.
He said: "Traffic static for ten minutes at a time along St George’s Road since 7am this morning.
"People abandoning the buses and walking to the course. The traffic management plan is not working well."
Stagecoach tweeted this morning: "We are experiencing the same volume of traffic as yesterday in Sandwich town.
"Subsequently the same diversion is in place. Into St Barts and right out to Cby for 43. 80/81 not going past Sandwich Tech. As soon as the spectators get to the golf we'll revert back to town."
This morning Ms Carpenter parked up at one of the car parks and boarded another shuttlebus, but after an hour got off and walked in "as the bus was so slow".
She said: "If we’d known there would be these issues we would not have attended The Open.
"Either end of the day has marred an otherwise good time.
"I can’t imagine what the Covid risk assessment said about kettling people on buses for hours with limited ventilation. It is very disappointing."
It followed four days of practice starting on Sunday.
At the end of the first day Louis Oosthuizen leads on six under par.
A reduced capacity of 32,000 people were expected to descend on the links course to watch the delayed tournament, which was put back a year because of pandemic uncertainty.
Two special park and ride facilities have been set up, providing parking for 12,000 vehicles.
These are in fields north and south of Sandwich. The northern site is on farmland to the west of Cliffsend village, situated directly adjacent to the A299 Hengist Way. The southern one is on the A256 south west of Deal.
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