London’s transport system ready for ‘extreme’ demands of 2012 Olympics
Keeping the capital moving during the 2012 Olympics will be an enormous challenge for the organisers, according to a London assembly report which gives warПing that transport conditions will be "extreme".
The report says the Olympic Delivery Authority calculates that on the nine busiest days there will be more than 1m Olympic-related journeys on public transport. The busiest day will be Saturday 4 August, when almost 700,000 ticket holders will be travelling to central London and the Olympic Park at Stratford for the triathlon in Hyde Park, football at Wembley, the 20km race walk on the Mall and the climax of the second day of the heptathlon in the Olympic Stadium.
Transport for London (TfL) and the authority have launched a campaign targeted at companies, promoting the idea it will be "business as unusual" during the Games, but urging them to consider the transport restrictions that will be in place.
Each 2012 ticket will come with a free travelcard. Organisers have pledged to make it the first "public transport Games". A campaign urging the public to work from home more, change their travel routines and to organise video-conferences instead of meetings will be launched by TfL early next year.
The London assembly transport committee report says that the aim of getting a third of all Londoners to alter their travel behaviour for the duration of the Games is very ambitious and calls for more detail on how it will be achieved.
"In 2012, London is facing extreme demand placed on a network already creaking at the seams," said Val Shawcross, chair of the committee. "This is not just about spectators and visitors being able to get to and from events – Londoners will need to go about their everyday business, too.
"We are reassured that what can be planned for is being planned for, but there is no doubt transport conditions will be extreme in 2012. It’s better to be safe than sorry and the more detailed plans are, the more likely London’s transport network will cope."
The committee welcomes the completion of most of the promised infrastructure improvements in time for the Games – with the exception of the extensive upgrades to the Jubilee line that will ferry tube passengers to Stratford – but notes that the network is operating near full capacity.
The 22 anticipated travel hotspots include King’s Cross and Victoria plus other stations where measures to combat overcrowding are already needed every day, plus the Embankment and the southern approach to the Blackwall Tunnel.
Games organisers and TfL are praised for tackling the complex challenges of what the latter has called "around 100 days of continuous extraordinary operation" from the Queen’s diamond jubilee (2-5 June) to the closing ceremony of the Paralympic Games (9 September).
Concerns remain over the controversial Olympic route network that will ferry foreign dignitaries, Games officials, athletes and the media around London in special lanes. "Organisers have resisted calls to reduce the size of the Games family who will use special ‘Games lanes’. and a lack of awareness about changes and restrictions on the rest of the network may see Londoners fall victim to fines," says the committee.
TfL said all necessary transport improvements would be delivered well before the Games. "It will be ‘business as unusual’ during the Games and transport networks will be busier than usual. We’re confident we’ll get all athletes, spectators and officials to their events on time and keep London moving," said a spokesman.
"But we’re not complacent, which is why we’re already working closely with many businesses and encouraging others to plan ahead to ensure they keep on runПing during 2012 and make the most of all the Games have to offer."
Next week, 2012 organisers will intensify an advertising campaign to remind the public that initial ticket applications closes on 26 April. The message will be that this represents the best chance of seeing their first-choice events.