Organisers gearing up for the main event
As the 2016 clock ticks towards the New Year, so too does the countdown clock on America’s Cup, with 160 days remaining from today until the opening event.
Bermuda will wake on January 1 to the Year of America’s Cup in Bermuda.
This means the 16 committees and the 150 professionals who volunteer their time and expertise to prepare Bermuda are in full gear.
After two years of planning, committees dealing with infrastructure, security, transport, telecommunications, water safety, medical support, hospitality, legacy, economic and social impact of the America’s Cup experience for Bermuda, are now switching from planning mode to implementing mode.
We have heard that Bermuda will be on show to the world with up to a billion television viewers in 155 countries, and these committees are working on how that translates to the experience right here in Bermuda.
The Transportation Committee, for instance, includes representatives from PTB, TCD, taxis (represented by TCD), Minibus Association, Works & Engineering, Marine & Ports, America’s Cup Event Authority, BIU representatives, Police, Ministry of Tourism, Development and Transport, Department of Airport Operations, Bermuda Environmental Consultants, Wedco and America’s Cup. Brian Gonsalves, the chairman of the Transport Committee, has confirmed the various ways to travel to the America’s Cup Village, and to and from Dockyard.
The traditional ferry routes to Dockyard from Hamilton and St George’s will still be in place with all regular ferry routes operating on an enhanced schedule for more frequent service.
Ferries will travel a slightly different route on the water as channels are redirected to avoid the racecourse, although they will visit the usual ferry stops. These ferries drop off at the Dockyard Ferry Terminal and a shuttle will be available to the America’s Cup Village at Cross Island.
An Express Ferry Service will also be available from Hamilton direct to the America’s Cup Village.
Taxis can drive straight to the transport hub drop off and collection point in Dockyard, but organisers are concerned about the expected demand on taxi drivers, particularly on the weekends during race days.
“We need to remember this is a sustained event over a month, not just one busy weekend,” Mr Gonsalves said. “Transport operators will be expected to sustain a constant high volume of business.
“Taxis will also be needed by hotels and visiting yachts for the additional functions and VIP events that will be scheduled, as well as airport transfers and other non-America’s Cup transportation needs.”
Driving to the event is an option although there will be no America’s Cup parking in Dockyard at all.
People driving to the America’s Cup will park at one of six park and ride hubs and will be shuttled to the America’s Cup Village in minibuses.
Up to 2,000 car bays will be available across all locations, and the waiting time for a shuttle is an expected average of ten minutes. Deborah Brown, the park and ride manager, will be organising that schedule.
The shuttle will take fans to the transport hub where they will then walk about 200 metres to the America’s Cup Village entrance.
The park and ride shuttle does not drop off at the gate as a measure to avoid congestion.
Organisers compare the experience as similar to visiting a theme park or any large international sporting event where parking and transportation requires pre-planning.
The process is in place to make it as convenient and safe as possible, and fans should allow sufficient extra time if they plan to drive and park.
Separate areas will be marked for motorbikes and disabled access permit holders.
Parking bays, and park and ride tickets, must be booked in advance online. The details will be made available in February and parking will be affordable.
The system will manage when a car park is full and will redirect the user to the next closest available car park at the time of booking.
Ms Brown would like to hear from minibus owners who are looking for drivers and from drivers who hold a public vehicle service licence and preferably also a Certified Tourism Ambassador.
“We really need a commitment from operators, if they register to be working, they absolutely must be there,” she said.
With respect to security matters for the America’s Cup experience, Bermuda is supported by international foreign affairs agencies to ensure it is safe for all locals and the thousands of visitors expected to be in Bermuda from May next year.
A projected 10,000 people will converge on Dockyard for the racing on the busiest days, a combination of locals, visitors, cruise passengers, sponsors, teams, workers and volunteers.
British police, through the National Police Co-ordination Centre (NPCC), have been involved since June 2016 assisting with the design of the America’s Cup Bermuda security strategy. Meanwhile, Northern Command and the US State Department have been liaising closely with the Royal Bermuda Regiment.
“International security experts from the US and UK are involved to a similar level as if the event were hosted in a large city like London,” William White, the Security Committee chairman, said.
In January, local security and national safety training will be held with Multi Agency Gold Incident Command and the Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Programme.
This customised training programme is a long-term benefit for Bermuda and local personnel in the national security profession.
A Joint Agency Control Centre will combine the efforts of all parties in a central location during the event.
Significant training and a drill exercise are planned to test the contingency plans early in 2017.
The drill will include processes such as evacuation simulation, oil spill potential, fire evacuation, mass medical emergency (eg, a building collapse, tour boat sink, virus outbreak).
More information will follow closer to the time.
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