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SLOC got yeses on pleas for buses

If you want to attend a 2002 Winter Games event, you might have to hop on a Santa Monica, Calif., city bus.

Or one from Philadelphia, Denver or maybe a Texas city.But don't worry, you won't have to travel to another state. Buses from those and other transit agencies could be among the 1,400 borrowed buses the Salt Lake Organizing Committee plans to deploy as part of its spectator transportation fleet during the Olympics.

SLOC's nationwide call of "Lend us your buses," issued at the annual American Public Transit Association meeting last October in New York, has been answered in good numbers, Larry Ferolie, SLOC's director of transportation administration, said last week.

Ferolie told the Olympic Transportation Working Group that SLOC now has commitments for 850 buses out of the 1,400 it needs to borrow.

"We're getting some good help," said Ferolie, who served as assistant director of transportation for communications for the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta.

Ferolie said that's an especially good number considering the fact that SLOC has yet to negotiate agreements with any transit agency in Texas, the Pacific Northwest or Los An- geles. Combined, that's a pool of about 8,000 buses, and Ferolie is optimistic most of the remaining buses needed can come from those agencies.

He said Pacific Northwest transit agencies have been contacted but thus far are unwilling to lend buses because they feel they need every bus they have during February, a peak time for bus service.

SLOC's request has been particularly well supported, Ferolie said, from some of the eight U.S. cities seeking to host the 2012 Summer Games. San Francisco, for example, is eager to help out because of its interest in winning that bid. None of the bidding cities wants to be labeled as unwilling to help out Salt Lake's effort for fear it might reflect poorly on their own bids, Ferolie suggested.

Bus drivers are also needed, and SLOC is now turning its attention there. It is asking veteran drivers nationwide to use two weeks' vacation and come to Salt Lake City to drive Olympic spectators.

"We're willing to fly them in, pay them, house them, give them uniforms," Ferolie said.

He said a pool of 250 retired bus drivers now living in Utah would be approached for assistance.