GOLF fans heading to the Irish Open next week are being encouraged to use public transport and the park and ride services.
More than 100,000 spectators are expected to converge in Portrush during the four days of the European Tour event which tees off next Thursday.
Coleraine Borough Council is advising motorists to follow the variable messaging boards to find the most appropriate parking site and where possible, to share transport. Visitors are asked to follow the advice of police and marshals to prevent any unnecessary delays.
Parking for up to 10,000 cars will be available at just £5 per day and buses will be free from park and ride sites.
Translink will put on extra trains to accommodate 5,000 passengers each day.
The special arrangements are designed to ensure not only that spectators have ease of access to the event, but to minimise the disruption to roads surrounding Portrush.
Council is stressing that Portrush town will be very much open for business.
With the exception of the East Strand Car Park in Portrush town (which is to be used by tournament organisers) it is intended that no golf traffic will be directed to park in Portrush itself and that only park and ride locations are used.
The European Tour, in conjunction with Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB), the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), Coleraine Borough Council, Translink and the Roads Service say the overriding objective is a safe event with minimum disruption to the local communities and ease of access and a warm welcome for all visitors.
Public transport arrangements
TRANSLINK will provide both coach and rail golf services to ensure visitors enjoy a hassle-free journey and reduce traffic congestion in the area.
In addition to normal scheduled services, extra trains will run from Belfast and Derry/Londonderry to Portrush with tickets available to book online or purchase in advance from main rail stations.
Train capacity will be 5,000 arrivals to Portrush station each competition day.
Passengers will be directed to the course via Eglinton Street and Causeway Street by a combination of signage, stewards and street theatre artists.
Dedicated golf coach services will depart locations across Northern Ireland and are available to book online only and Ulsterbus Tours is also offering travel and Irish Open event ticket packages.
Both golf rail and coach return services are £15 per adult and £7.50 per child and Ulsterbus Tours packages are priced at £40. For further information including booking tickets click www.translink.co.uk/irishopen or call the Translink contact centre on 90 66 66 30.
* Extra capacity for boat users will be provided at Portrush Harbour and a “lock-to” facility will be available for all cyclists at The Bowl in Portrush.
Park and Ride scheme
LOCATIONS have been identified as temporary car parks to facilitate a park and ride scheme and spaces for approximately 10,000 vehicles.
The venues have been chosen as they are located strategically to the east and west of Royal Portrush Golf Club to ensure traffic visiting from all parts of the country as well as the Republic will be directed into the most suitable areas.
It’s expected that there will be 24 departures an hour from park and ride sites, operated by Translink - one every two-and-a-half minutes. Motorists are advised to follow signage to the park and ride sites.
This service is aimed at significantly reducing the volume of vehicles, particularly cars, needing to actually get to or from Royal Portrush Golf Club. All vehicle access and egress to and from the event is restricted to essential traffic only and carefully managed.
Shuttle bus times (tournament week) are: Tuesday and Wednesday 8am-8pm; Thursday and Friday 6am-10pm; Saturday 7am-12pm; Sunday 7am-8pm There will be a nominal charge per vehicle for access to the car parks - £5 each day - but thereafter the shuttle service to the golf course will be free.
Parking and access
IN order to minimise disruption to local communities, to ensure that spectators use the park and ride facilities and to prevent illegal or fly parking “No Parking /Tow Away Zones” will be established on major routes and local or estate roads adjoining or Royal Portrush Golf Club and the park and ride venues.
The drop off, lay-up and pick up point for all private hire buses will be at the existing coach park on Sandhill Drive. Additional lay-up for coaches will be on Atlantic Road if required.
Taxis and drop-offs from private cars will be accommodated at the car park of the Dunluce Centre by means of a coned off zone within the one-way system.
With the exception of the East Strand Car Park (which is to be used by tournament organisers) it is intended that no golf traffic is directed to park in Portrush and only park and ride locations are used. Approximately 10,800 car park spaces have been identified to facilitate the flow of visitors to the area.
Each car park will have identified spaces for disabled users and park and ride buses will accommodated disabled users.
The more severely disabled will be accommodated at The Bowl car park by application only to the European Tour (tel. 0800 023 2557).
* Tuesday, June 26 to Sunday, July 1: 07:00hrs to 19:00hrs 1. There will be no through traffic to or from Portrush, via the Bushmills Road.
* During event hours there will be no regular through traffic on the Dunluce Road either toward or away from Portrush. Diversions will be signed.
*. No roadside parking will be permitted from the Dunluce Road at its junction with Ballybogey Road to Crocknamack
* Special vehicle passes will be printed by The European Tour and distributed by the Coleraine Borough Council all residents living within areas indicated above to allow 24 hour access to their homes and frontages.