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[PyeongChang 2018] Large parking lots await drivers to PyeongChang Olympics

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea -- For those who drive to PyeongChang during the Winter Games period, there is one certain place they will probably end up: a large parking lot which will serve as ground transportation hub.

During the Games, only authorized vehicles or cars with permits are allowed to be on the roads and streets near competition venues. If visitors come to PyeongChang with their own cars, they can only enter the venues via shuttle buses.

This photo shows Daegwallyeong Transport Mall in PyeongChang, Gangwon Province, the host city for the 2018 Winter Olympics, on Nov. 15, 2017. (Yonhap)
This photo shows Daegwallyeong Transport Mall in PyeongChang, Gangwon Province, the host city for the 2018 Winter Olympics, on Nov. 15, 2017. (Yonhap)

To accommodate drivers from across the nation, the PyeongChang Organizing Committee for the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games said Wednesday it will operate eight large parking lots -- four in Gangneung, a sub host city for ice sports, and another four near PyeongChang, where snow sports events will be held.

The eight parking lots will be able to accommodate some 10,580 vehicles, including 580 buses, according to POCOG. The parking lots will also serve as shuttle bus stations, transporting visitors to the venues they want to go within 20 minutes.

"From one day before the opening ceremony to one day after the closing ceremony, the shuttle buses will start operating two hours before the first sports event of the day and continue until two hours after the last sports event of the day," said Kang Hee-up, who heads POCOG's transport and traffic bureau. "We plan to operate a total of 432 shuttle buses for visitors for free and they will cover 25 routes to the venues in PyeongChang and Gangneung."

Among the eight parking lots, Daegwallyeong Transport Mall is the largest facility and is the closest to the Olympic Stadium where the opening and closing ceremonies will be staged. On a 200,000 square-meter plot, it can accommodate 3,600 cars at once as well as 290 buses.

"Our main concept of ground transportation is park and ride," said Kim Hee-chun, who leads venue transportation team at POCOG. "If parking lots are full, we've secured extra space near these facilities, so the visitors don't have to be concerned."

Kim said residents of PyeongChang and those who made hotel or other lodging facility reservations will get special permits to drive their vehicles. But main access to the venues will be only possible through shuttle buses.

"With help from municipal governments, an alternative-day-no-driving system will be used during the Olympic Games, so we expected to see no heavy traffic," he said. "There will be also shuttle buses that only stop at lodging facilities in PyeongChang."

POCOG said it is confident that buses would not be overloaded.

"Our shuttle bus system is prepared to handle situations that are packed with spectators," said Kim Sang-pyo, who manages venue facility affairs. "We'll especially run the shuttle buses according to match starting time and the arrival of KTX bullet trains at Jinbu (Odaesan) Station."

 POCOG said after the Olympic and Paralympic Games, Daegwallyeong Transport Mall will turn into farming field as it was. (Yonhap)