The transport system in London ran smoothly during the first full working day of the Olympic Games (yesterday). Transport for London (TfL) said it went pretty well despite concerns that an extra three million journeys would cause a gridlock. This comes as 12 million journeys are made every day in the British capital, while commuters were urged before the Games to plan ahead to avoid traffic.
On Monday between 6pm and 10pm, six platforms at London Bridge were made exits only to handle an expected 50,000 visitors from equestrian events at Greenwich. Reports said there was evidence of unusually quiet platforms at some London Underground stations in the early evening, while others had the usual level of passengers.
A TfL spokeswoman said that it looks as though Londoners have heeded their warnings and been more flexible with their journeys. Director of games Mark Evers said that they are happy with things so far. However, they aren’t getting ahead of themselves, as there are still two weeks to go. He estimates 4% more journeys were made on public transport during the day compared to normal commuting days. He says the system coped well, as commuters heeded their advice to avoid possible hotpots at peak travel times, while extra services were run on the Tube and by Docklands Light Railways.
TfL anticipates that as many as one million visitors will be travelling London every day during the Games, and they expect the busiest days to have an additional three million journeys. However, Evers warns that the transport system will get even busier than that on Friday, when the Olympic Park stadium in Stratford is reopened to host athletic events. The stadium, which can seat 80,000 spectators, will put even more pressure on train lines operating to the park. Evers urges spectators to avoid the Jubilee and Central main underground lines, using alternative routes instead. TfL is issuing regular warnings about travel restrictions around many sports venues across the city via its website, the media and radio advertising.
On Monday, Prime Minister David Cameron said that he’s been on the Tube to see how the traffic situation was himself, and it wasn’t too bad. He noted that the Bakerloo Lines was running okay. However, they have to overcome a lot of challenges one by one. He believes everything is looking good at the moment, though.
This good start comes on top of a successful weekend for the transport system during the launch of the Olympic Games. There were 30% more journeys made on the London Underground network than usual at the weekend. Transport chiefs started planning for the Games in 2005, when the British capital won the bid to host the events. In 2009, a co-ordination centre was built, bringing Tube, train and bus staff all under one roof with officials from the London Olympics organising committee, City Hall and police department. Workers have carried out simulations for transport glitches, political incidents and security threats to prepare.
However, there are some transport staff who seem to want to disrupt the Games. The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union has called on its South West Trains members to refuse working overtime or on rest days until August 12. This has the potential to affect journeys in and out of the capital.
However, South West Trains managing director Tim Shoveller says he’s pleased that members voted against full strike action and insists services will run as scheduled during the Games. It’s disappointing the union seems like it wants to disrupt services during such an important time for the country and their customers. Despite the announced action, they will run a full service for passengers so they can travel to and from Games events in London.
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