Newcastle's public transport provider has assured the community extra bus drivers will be available for this weekend's Supercars event, despite reports of driver shortages.
Additional bus, train, tram and ferry services will be put on from Friday to Sunday to cater for the large crowds set to descend on Newcastle East for the city's first Supercars event since 2019.
Race stakeholders including police, transport, council and Supercars held a joint press conference on Thursday to provide information on the event and how to get there.
Road closures in the lead-up to the event have caused traffic chaos in the precinct.
Transport for NSW customer coordination and service delivery executive director Roger Weeks said Transport conducted reviews after major events to take any lessons for the future.
Mr Weeks said they were urging people to use "leave the car at home" and use public transport to access the Newcastle 500 to avoid congestion and delays.
"It's going to be the best way that will get you as close to the track as possible and as efficiently as possible," he said.
The park-and-ride service that ran from McDonald Jones Stadium will not operate this year. Mr Weeks said the stadium car park was not available this year with the Newcastle Jets to play at home on Saturday night.
"We're encouraging people to use our commuter car park facilities across the rail network," he said.
The Herald reported this week that bus operator Keolis Downer confirmed widespread cancellation of bus services due to a driver shortage and recruitment difficulties.
Keolis Downer Hunter general manager Emmanuel Genlot said there would be additional drivers called in to service the extra buses over the weekend.
"It's easier for us to allocate resources on the weekend because on the weekend we don't operate school services so we have more staff available," he said.
"We have also allocated staff on stand-by just to make sure we can cover additional crowd or additional need."
Northern Region police commander Assistant Commissioner Peter McKenna said additional police resources would also be pulled in from across the Northern Region, including specialist commands and highway patrol.
"We want to make sure the only people who decide to drive fast are on that race track during race time," he said.
He said there would be extra police in the precinct as well as licensed venues.
"You'll see us on foot, on bikes, on horses - there will be police everywhere this weekend," he said.
When asked if police were expecting protest activity at the event, Assistant Commissioner McKenna said "people had a lawful right to protest if they do it in the right way, but any unlawful protests or anything that interferes with anyone's safety this weekend then we will react to that very, quickly".
"And we've got resources to do so," he said.
Previous events have been well-run, Assistant Commissioner McKenna said, and police are "well-rehearsed" in these sorts of events.
However he urged people to be patient with the large crowds, drink responsibly and look after one another.
"Any anti-social behaviour, any criminal offences that take place, we won't have any tolerance for that because we want this to be a really good weekend," he said.
Newcastle councillor Peta Winney-Baartz said race-goers had "always received an exemplary report card for their behaviour".
"We're really keen for that to continue," she said.
"Our crowds that have attended and the behaviours of people around the city have reinforced that we are a city that can host these major events and we're really looking forward to it being a fantastic event for Newcastle."
Supercars event manager Nigel Blunden said he wanted to thank Newcastle residents for their patience and "understanding of the build that we go through, both leading into the event of the weekend over the three days and then over the next three weeks as we remove the infrastructure".
"Please over the weekend, stay hydrated, stay safe at the track or on the roads," he said. 'Perhaps even better leave the car at home, use public transport.
"The cost of the public transport, bus, train, ferry and tram is all included in your ticket.
"We look forward to seeing a great crowd, great weather and a great event this weekend."
Information on road closures is available at the Live Traffic NSW website, while public transport details can be found at newcastletransport.info/supercars-2023.
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