While the inaugural Indian Grand Prix last year was considered a success, there were still many aspects in which the event had room for improvement. Jaypee Group's vice president of corporate communications Askari Zaidi admitted as much at a media briefing at the Buddh International Circuit at Greater Noida on Thursday.
"We got a lot of negative feedback regarding the park and ride facilities last year," Zaidi told reporters. "We have taken steps this year to make sure spectators are not faced with too much difficulty."
One such negative feedback from a spectator at last year's event is from Noida resident Anuj Wadhwa, who along with his wife, availed of the park and ride facilities from Knowledge Park II last year. "Right from the start there were problems," Wadhwa told HT. "There were only a few private buses from which there were people hanging out of the doors because they were full beyond capacity."
Cramped surroundings aside, Wadhwa did not experience much trouble on Friday and Saturday but missed the first 15 minutes of the F1 race on Sunday due to his bus being stuck in a traffic jam. "It got to the point that people got off the bus and started to run to the circuit because otherwise they'd miss the race completely," said Wadhwa. "By the time we got to the circuit on foot, our bus was still stuck in the jam."
The problems only magnified after the race ended at around 5pm. "After the race finished, it was like no one cared whether you got home or not," said Wadhwa.
Wadhwa said that he and hundreds of other spectators were stranded due to the lack of signage to get back to the pick-up point where they discovered that buses taking spectators back to Greater Noida were unable to come back due to the massive traffic snarls.
Zaidi, along with Jaypee Sports senior vice-president of security and traffic outlined some of the steps they are taking this year to avoid a repeat of such experiences, which includes access to the circuit from the Yamuna Expressway that is now open to the public.
Parking spots for 21,000 private vehicles and up to 1,000 motorcycles will be available at the circuit itself, from where spectators will be able to walk to their seats or take the shuttle service that will ferry them between various spectator points around the 5.125 km circuit. Two hundred pre-booked chartered buses will also be available from the Noida City Centre metro station.
The problematic park and ride facility will again be available from Knowledge Park II, near Pari Chowk in Greater Noida. Pre-booked parking for 4,000 cars along with 200 buses will be available for spectators.
Wadhwa remains hesitant about going for the event this year. "I definitely won't go again this year if I am unable to get a parking pass at the circuit," said Wadhwa. "I may go next year if I get positive feedback from other people."