TENS of millions of pounds were spent on transport projects in the run up to the Olympics in Weymouth and Portland.

Weymouth Relief Road was built at a cost of £77 million and the transport package with its intelligent traffic-lights system cost £15.5 million.

Dozens of special-liveried buses and hundreds of staff were brought in to run three park and ride facilities. Two temporary sites were established at Kingston Maurward and Monkey’s Jump which, alongside the existing park and ride at Mount Pleasant, were run by the Olympic Delivery Authority.

Seminars were held to inform local businesses and residents how they could best cope with the expected influx of people.

A massive advertising campaign warned people to avoid the roads and take public transport.

Extra trains were put on and everybody prepared for the crowds to arrive – except they didn’t.

Following poor visitor numbers to the area in the first days of the Olympics, organisers had to swing into action to try to attract people to the area.

Many traders said they were losing up to 50 per cent of their regular business because of the Olympics and blamed ‘hype about traffic and road congestion’.

Urgent action was taken by Dorset County Council and the Olympic Delivery Authority to boost visitor numbers by dropping £10 charges at Monkey’s Jump park and ride in Dorchester.

Figures from the Olympic Delivery Authority suggest that this helped to turn around the situation as use of the Monkey’s Jump car park more than tripled overnight and a tenfold increase was seen within five days.

On the first day of the sailing events in Weymouth and Portland, Sunday July 29, 2,013 people used the park and ride buses.

This increased to just 2,438 people on the second day of sailing action on Monday July 30.

By Wednesday August 1, the Kingston Maurward site had been closed and kept in reserve.

On ‘Ainslie Sunday’, August 5, when Ben Ainslie won Team GB’s only gold medal in sailing, 10,206 people used the park and ride buses.

The tail-end of the Games proved more popular with visitors to the borough with 6,734 people using the buses on the last day of the sailing, Saturday August 11.

In all, transport chiefs made £161,100 from the park and ride sites in Weymouth and Dorchester throughout the Olympic Games.

Bookings made for the buses made £61,350 and revenue from ‘on the day’ take-up was £99,740.

First Group ran the buses, which were brand new, and 60 buses were in use a day.

But while visitor money was being spent on the Dorset County Council and Olympic Delivery Authority-run park-and-rides, borough council car parks saw a fall in revenue. During the Olympics £113,354 was spent on parking in Weymouth and Portland Borough Council car parks.

This was a £142,038 drop in revenue from 2011.

Councillor Christine James, spokesman for transport and infrastructure, said the difference was, in part, down to a number of council car parks being used by the Olympic authorities during the Games.

She added: “The borough council has been fully compensated for the use of those car parks by both LOCOG and the ODA.”

Many thanks

A TRANSPORT advisor for the London 2012 Games has praised residents and businesses for changing the way they travelled this summer.

Dorset County Council London 2012 travel and transport adviser Chris Hook thanked everyone for their support and for adopting different travelling behaviour in what was expected to be a very busy period.

He said: “All of the credit for behaviour change goes to the business and the residents of Dorset, hundreds of who enabled and encouraged different travel by their staff, their suppliers and their customers.”

He added: “Weymouth and Portland businesses in partnership with London 2012 and Dorset County Council have demonstrated that Dorset’s transport network can accommodate more people than previously thought possible.”