The London 2012 Olympic Games are coming to London this summer and all journeys are likely to be affected whether you're going to the games or not.
The Olympic venues are not all on the Olympic Park in Stratford so you are going to have to be realistic about the disruption. The British tendency to whinge will not get us through the whole summer and once apathy turns to realism you are going to need to have a plan. Businesses can attend free workshops to get the information to know how to keep running during the games for deliveries, customers and employees.
Get Ahead of the Games Website
To help everyone in London this summer, a website has been set up called Get Ahead of the Games: www.GetAheadOfTheGames.com. It has been developed by Transport for London on behalf of the Olympic Delivery Authority, London 2012, the Department for Transport, the Highways Agency, National Rail and the Mayor of London.
While a poster advertising campaign has been raising awareness of the need to plan our journeys and consider alternatives this summer, the website is there to give you more information on where and when travel will be affected and to help you consider your travel options.
The Four Rs
- These four Rs and going to be needed to keep London moving this summer:
- 1. Re-route
You need to know the alternative ways to get from A to B. And don't just think of a plan, you must test your plan. 4-6 weeks ahead of the games would be best.
- 2. Re-time
Rush hour in the morning and evening are busy every day in London but the Olympic Games will bring a third later rush hour when the Olympic events finish each day. While the tubes are going to run an hour earlier and an hour later they are not 24 hours and you need to consider traveling at different times of the day: going to work earlier, later, or not at all some days of the week. Again, don't just think about it. You need to practice your time change plan before the games start to see how it fits into your life. If you have to go into work then look out for the offers at attractions for after work fun from 6-8pm each day.
- 3. Re-mode
The tube is not the only form of transport in London. Check bus routes for sections of your journey and there's never been a better time to try the Barclays Cycle Hire scheme for some of your journey. Remember the bike ranks are most popular near major train stations so check other locations so you can mix and match your journey with a bit of walking, cycling, a bus, and a tube. If you want to get across London this summer you have got to be realistic and know your options. Also consider walking parrt of your journey. No-one expects you to walk for 2 hours across town but consider about walking part of your journey if it means avoiding a travel hot spot.
- 4. Reduce
If you can, do not travel as much as you would normally. If you can work from home then do so. If you can stay near the attractions you want to visit then do and walk to them. The passenger numbers are going to increase dramatically this summer so try not to make unnecessary journeys for the sake of your sanity.
Not Just Three Weeks
Transport is going to be affected from even before the start of the Olympic Games as the Torch Relay will be in London from a week before the Opening Ceremony on Friday 27 July. The Olympic Games last for three weeks but don't think that's everything finished as there are a few weeks in August and then the Paralympic Games are on for a few weeks taking us up to mid-September.
While taking some of the summer as holiday/vacation time is an option there are not many who can be away for a couple of months. Check the timeline on how London's public transport will be affected to discover which dates may be the best to avoid for you.
Busiest Tube Lines
Throughout the summer, the busiest tube lines will be the Jubilee and Central lines as they both go to Stratford, the home of the Olympic Park. But there will be interchange hotspots too such as Oxford Circus as it is on the Central Line and in the center of town.
Not Just The Tube
Many Londoners and visitors primarily use the London Underground system as bus routes may not seem so easy to understand. But there's never been a better time to look at the bus network as you are going to need to know alternative routes and modes of transport. If you are travelling to work then check the buses near your home and workplace; if you are visiting attractions check the buses that go to the places you want to see and get you back to your hotel. A London A-Z is going to be essential kit this summer if your planned route has to change due to disruption.
London Buses are going to be running more frequent services on many routes to cope with the additional passengers.
As there are Olympic events that take place outside of venues and on the streets of London you will need to be prepared for changes to bus routes, heavier traffic in some areas, and road closures to all traffic including pedestrians and cyclists. Again, it's not just in east London where this will be noticeable as St. James's Park and Hyde Park will have routes closed to pedestrians and cyclists - and not only on the days of the events as planning time is required before these major competitions.
How To Stay Informed
As well as checking the Get Ahead of The Games website before traveling you can get real time information by following @GAOTG on twitter and by signing up for the TfL Games email alerts.
There are many London transport smartphone apps that could help you during the summer. These ones are free for the iPhone but there are many more available for all smartphones; just check your app store:
- Tube Map – has the map and a simply journey planner
- Bus Mapper – check which buses are near you and bus arrival times.
- London Cycles - find the nearest Barclays cycle ranks with bikes and with spaces to return bikes.
Some of us are going to be attending Olympic Games events this summer and the London 2012 website has set up a Spectator Journey Planner to help plan the route. Allow plenty of extra time for your journey as the time to leave the station and get into the venue may be longer than you expect.