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Bus Keeps Spectators Waiting Up to Four Hours

July 23, 1996

ATLANTA (AP) _ Hundreds of spectators waited up to four hours Tuesday for a bus to the Olympics from a suburban parking lot, and some of them missed events for which they paid hundreds of dollars.

``I was going to see gymnastics,″ said Julie Boyden of Michigan, who paid $214 for her four tickets. ``We waited six years to come and see them, and now it’s pretty much over.″

The women’s optional gymnastics competition at the Georgia Dome began at 9:30 a.m., and the first bus didn’t show up at the Clayton State College lot south of Atlanta until 10 a.m. Some of the spectators had been waiting since 6 a.m.

``We had a 9:30 in the morning judo session that we obviously have missed,″ said Jeremey Phillips of Iowa. ``We’re hoping to make the 3 o’clock, but we have a little more confidence that we’ll make the 8 p.m. baseball game tonight. We’ll see.″

Olympic transportation officials blamed miscommunication.

``Two garages serve that area, and both garages thought the other one had it,″ said Ron Whittington, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, which provides bus service to the Olympic lots.

He said the problem went unnoticed by MARTA officials until a roving supervisor happened to spot the long lines.

``We apologize for the inconvenience we caused our passengers,″ said Whittington. ``We hope some of them that waited gave it a little bit of time, realized something was wrong, and went on to another lot.″

Getting into town was easier for Atlanta’s commuters, who heeded official warnings and came in early on buses and trains, or in car pools.

At 7:30 a.m., normally the peak of rush hour, downtown highways were clear.

``It’s amazing. It looks like a Sunday morning,″ said Toni Dunagan, a spokeswoman for the state Transportation Management System, which monitors the highways from a series of cameras.

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