Last week, David McNeill, the Director of Public Affairs and Stakeholder Engagement at TFL, gave an immensely amusing speech about travelling around London during the Olympics. He was so funny I thought he should switch career and do comedy instead. Although, ‘I work for TFL and can promise everything is going to be fine,’ is probably a one off joke.
(Thanks Sue, for taking his picture)
As many of you know by now, there is a fantastic site called get ahead of the games, that, alongside some freaky illustrations, details everything you want to know about travelling around during the Olympics. The trouble is it can be a bit like having a menu that’s too extensive at a restaurant. So here are some important points to take away with you:
1. don’t drive through London during the Olympics. Pretty obvious perhaps, but the only people who will be getting anywhere quickly will be athletes, athlete’s families, authorised big-shots, and media types using special lanes on the ORN, or Olympic Route Network.
2. use the train to get to London and indeed other cities hosting events if you aren’t there already. Additional services will be running to places 2-3 hours outside London. Some will run until 1/1.30am. and if you haven’t booked tickets yet, do – because advanced fares are far cheaper than fares on the day. Incidentally if in or heading to London;
3. …get your Oyster card sorted and topped up now, to avoid silly queues at machines during the weeks of (fun) madness. The Oyster can be used on buses, the Underground, the Overground (far more spacious, cheaper and recommended tube alternative) and the DLR. If you have a Railcard you can add it to your Oyster card and shrink the fares alarmingly. Don’t tell anyone I told you, it seems to be a big TFL secret and I’m really enjoying my reduced rate.
4. avoid the Central Line like the plague. I do this on a day-to-day basis anyway because I enjoy what I have left of my sanity. Avoid Bond Street. Avoid London Bridge. If you can, avoid using the tube as much as possible. Check the hotspots. David says, ‘instead of waiting an extra half an hour on the platform, go down the pub for a beer. We have also negotiated cinema and restaurant deals for people who are working in London so that they can avoid the crush… it’s a better idea than it sounds. And don’t go on the central line.’
5. there are a couple of events that will be free. However, don’t go and see the Marathon unless you are mad. The Marathon doesn’t take the normal London Marathon route. David says, ‘ever seen one of those Hollywood movies set in London with a big car chase that seems to take in every famous landmark from Buckingham Palace to Big Ben to the Tower of London in two minutes flat? Well the Marathon route is a bit like that. It runs five times round central London. We’ve worked out that there’s space for around 150,000 spectators. We are expecting over a million. So that could be quite a difficult one. If you want to go, don’t expect to be able to use the toilet, don’t take the children, and take lots of water. Because basically otherwise you’ll dehydrate and your children will die.’
And then David finishes with, ‘anyway in summary it really will be okay – the public transport system is going to hold up, it will be alright, and soon we’ll be joyfully celebrating the 150th year of the Tube.’