20th anniversary drives home memories

Some of the bus drivers involved in the massive Sydney 2000 transport effort: Rod Blundell, Anthony Goode, Ray Holloway, Deb Matthews, Jim Goode and Charlie Manning.

The public transport for Sydney 2000 was a massive affair with buses and drivers from several states contracted to a specially formed enterprise called BUS 2000 for the event. Interstate drivers spent a training weekend in Sydney ahead of the Games to learn the routes and procedures, including security requirements and etiquettes in dealing with various nationalities.

The services operated 24 hours a day for the two weeks, ferrying ticketed spectators, volunteer officials and workers to and from all over the wider Sydney metropolis to Homebush and various event locations.  Buses were housed at various depots, both existing ones or set up for the purpose (incl at a Boral quarry and a Defence base), while the drivers were accommodated at various motels in the approximate vicinity of their allocated depots.

Several drivers and buses were sent by Tumut’s Goodes Coaches and several locals were among those involved in getting people around the city that was the focus of the sporting world at the time.

“We had one coach, one mini bus and two other school buses,” Anthony Goode said.

The Goode brothers ended up working for Coca Cola, and their job was to transport competition winners from all over the world from their motel near Central Station to the Olympic Stadium.

“We would load the bus up with Coca-Cola products for the passengers to enjoy on the trip,” he said.

“It was quite unique; there was such a good vibe, a feeling of good will. Everyone wanted it to be so successful.”

One might suspect the roads were utterly full and chaotic, but this wasn’t the case.

“The roads in Sydney have never been so easy to get around,” Mr Goode said.

“Everyone took the advice to either stay away or use public transport.

“For the guys driving the school buses it was a little bit difficult because these were the days before GPSs and they had to use directory books and maps.”

Mr Goode worked hard for three weeks and took one day off at the end to watch the marathon. 

“I waited for an hour, and they all ran past in a bunch in about 30 seconds, and I thought ‘I waited an hour for that’,” he said.

Charlie Manning said the Olympics were an experience that can’t be matched.

He stayed at St Gregory’s College in Campbelltown and his bus was stationed at Regents Park. He would begin at 3am and work an eight-to-12 hour shift.

“I started early because I was not used to driving in the city,” he said.

Making it more challenging was that he never did the same run two days in a row, but on the up side there was 40 per cent less traffic on the road. 

“People were very well mannered,” he said.

“I thoroughly enjoyed it. I clocked up 4400 kilometres. I’d go to and from Miranda, Liverpool, Picton, everywhere. Where I stayed, all food was supplied; we never had to spend a dollar. If it was on again I’d do it again.” 

Rod Blundell at the time worked for Ventura Buslines in Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs.

“I was one of 26 drivers who took 13 buses to Sydney and stayed in motels at Terrigal with 24-hr food service, with the buses based at Shorelines depot,” he said.

“A dedicated hourly bus service took us to and from the motels and the depot – about a 20 min drive. Our buses covered several routes, but I had a ball doing the Homebush to Warriewood Beach run at all hours of the day and night. The locals loved us and our buses because we had front and middle doors – not allowed in Sydney then – so disembarking was swift and off we would go again. We also had 2-way radios, so were able to communicate and coordinate our team. But the radio frequency up there was the same as a quarry company so that was quite amusing and frustrated their truckies no end.  

“A couple of Ventura coaches and drivers also went to Sydney and they transported officials, sponsor groups and competitors.”

Dedicated and well policed ‘Buses Only’ lanes worked really well along the road leading to Homebush Olympic Park Stadium and the loading and unloading of passengers was efficiently organised by volunteers such as Tumut’s Ray Holloway with a constant flow of buses complementing the rail transport.

Mr Holloway said he enjoyed the experience, especially meeting and working with people from overseas. He stayed at a one-bedroom unit owned by a friend from Adelong.