England v Sri Lanka, Twenty20, Rose Bowl

Going nowhere fast

The Rose Bowl's ambitions to be a Test venue have been dealt a further blow after hundreds of Park and Ride commuters were left stranded for several hours

Jenny Thompson at the Rose Bowl

June 16, 2006

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John and Jeffrey were all right, Jack, on the shuttle buses for the train ... but it was a different story for hundreds of other spectators at The Rose Bowl © Jenny Thompson
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The Rose Bowl's ambitions to be a Test venue have been dealt a further blow after hundreds of Park and Ride commuters were left stranded for several hours following the Twenty20 between England and Sri Lanka last night. A statement from Hampshire agreed the length of time they had to wait for the shuttle buses was "unacceptable".

The latest fiasco will particularly hurt the chairman Rod Bransgrove, who has been vocal in his disappointment at failing to win the bid to host at Ashes Test in 2009.

The Rose Bowl's group managing director, Glenn Delve, said of last night's events: "The review process has already begun and our Traffic Management Plan will be amended accordingly, in order to ensure that this does not happen again." But this isn't the first time it has happened.

"The Park and Ride was a complete disaster," wrote one Cricinfo reader - but that was back in 2004, after the Champions Trophy match between England and Sri Lanka when commuters got soaked while queuing for infrequent buses to take them to the car park. Two years later, nothing much seems to have changed, although at least this time it wasn't raining.

At the time, Hampshire promised to address the issues, saying: "Our revised plan calls for each of two or more Park and Ride sites to be in constant radio communication with each other. This radio contact will enable flexible deployment of fleets of buses/coaches all day long."

But last night there were few buses available, leaving some spectators to wait till gone midnight, two hours after the match finished, until some transport was organised. Some fans said that the Park and Ride signage was limited in the first place; having reached the ground in their cars, only then did a sign direct them back out to the Park and Ride several miles away.

They did offer this concession: "The Rose Bowl will be writing to all 1,000 spectators who pre-booked their Park & Ride Tickets, with a full apology. The Rose Bowl also invites those spectators who feel they were unduly delayed to contact the Rose Bowl Ticket Office, in writing, with a view to receiving a full refund of their Park & Ride ticket."

Commuters travelling by train by and large had a decent experience - in fact, the open-top bus to and from Southampton Airport Parkway was most pleasant - but in order to catch the last train to London, the last overs of the game had to be missed. Those who stayed on for the end paid the price of missing the 23.08 to Waterloo, with the next train at 5am on Friday morning.

It didn't help - and couldn't be helped - that play was held up by the unfortunate injury to Ed Joyce, and that the match itself had to be put back to accommodate the football, but at £40 a ticket spectators would be right to rue missing either the concluding overs, or the train.

But with the lack of nearby public transport, the onus must be on the ground to make sure games finish on time, irrespective of the football or not. Last night's thrilling climax to the cricket was an ideal case in point - the most exciting passage of play had to be forsaken by some. The Rose Bowl need to get their plans in order - and fast.

We are very interested in hearing your experiences of transport to and from the Rose Bowl yesterday. Write to us with your comments

Jenny Thompson is assistant editor of Cricinfo

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