American and Australian team buses get lost on way from Heathrow to Olympics
Published 16/07/2012 | 12:43
Scores of Olympic athletes and officials have been making circuitous routes around London as untrained bus drivers transporting them from Heathrow Airport have been lost en route to the Olympic Park in Stratford.
Two buses containing Americans and Australians were lost, one for nearly four hours, the other three hours this morning, even though their route was supposed to be fast-tracked by the implementation of the Olympic lane on the busy M4 motorway from Heathrow.
In what could have been a script for a comedy show, the bus driver containing the Australian contingent of 30 officials and medical staff took his passengers past Buckingham Palace and the back streets of West Ham.
"It would have been a great tourist trip if that is what you are here for," said Australian official Damian Kelly.
Kelly said the bus was moving – unlike the miles of gridlocked traffic – but it emerged after several hours that the driver admitted to not knowing how to operate the inbuilt navigation system on board.
"He admitted this was the first time he had taken the route and no one had taught him how the navigation system works because it operates off GPS," said Kelly
"One of the doctors on board got it working for him, but then the Olympic Village hadn't been loaded into the system and everyone was trying to find the name of the street that the village was in. In the end another physio got out his iPhone and gave directors to the bus driver via his phone."
The experience of the Australians mirrored that of the US contingent.
Two-time world 400 metres hurdles champion Kerron Clement said his first impression of the London wasn't that favourable.
Clement tweeted from the lost bus: "Um, so we've been lost on the road for 4 hrs. Not a good first impression London.
"Athletes are sleepy, hungry and need to pee. Could we get to the Olympic Village please."
The 26-year-old, who won the world title in 2007 and 2009 before surrendering the crown to Britain's Dai Greene in Daegu last year, is the defending Olympic silver medallist.
A media shuttle bus also had difficulty finding its destination. The double decker, travelling from Russell Square to the Olympic Park in Stratford, pulled over 30 minutes into its journey.
The driver said: "Sorry about this." He then got out a map, before performing a U-turn and quickly getting back on the correct route.
This follows a bus driver getting lost on one of the two roads in the Olympic Park last week.
A Locog spokeswoman said: "We will do over 100 bus journeys today. It is day one and we have only had one or two issues where journeys have taken longer than planned. The vast majority of journeys have been fine."