In the first of our Olympic guides, we’re looking at London Transport: how to get around during Olympics season – and how to avoid tube-rage…
There is a certain feeling in the air in London at the moment – there is definitely a buzz about the Olympic Games, but also a building sense of trepidation about the transport situation. As every Londoner knows, the rush hours on the underground are a less than pleasant experience – trains are full to capacity, people jostle, shove and stand face-to-armpit on interminable journeys to and from work. And that’s just on a normal day. Now imagine that situation plus the additional visitors to London during the summer and the mass movements to Stratford each day of the games – which will go from about 9-5, meaning that Olympic travel will coincide with workday rush-hours. Brilliant.
I met with two wonderful people from Transport for London’s Get Ahead of the Games initiative to address some of these concerns and to find out what can be done to make everyone’s lives easier during the games.
Firstly, just in case anyone is still thinking that it will all be ok and you can carry on with your usual journey, think again. During the games, there will be an extra 3 million journeys made every day – all going through central London at peak times. You only have to imagine the Central line at 5:30pm as it is to realise that it’s not going to work if everyone carries on ‘as normal’.
So what can you do instead? Get Ahead of the Games proposes the 4 Rs:
Quite simply, reduce the amount of time you spend on the tube. If you work in London, find out whether there are options for working from home. If that’s not possible, then think about whether you really need to use the tube – the ideas below might help.
The flashpoints are going to be at peak rush hours: 7:30-9am and 5-7pm. Perhaps your company will offer flexible working hours. If not, then you can take advantage of the many cultural events and discounts on offer in central London in the evenings, so why not stay, enjoy yourself and head home later, when the tubes are quieter? Visitors to London would also be wise to enjoy these cultural offerings and avoid a hellish peak time journey. More on this coming soon.
The busiest lines will be the Central line and Jubilee line, with major interchange stations like London Bridge and Bank being key places to avoid. If your journey would normally take you on that route, is there another line you could take? The London Underground system is web-like enough to provide plenty of options to a lot of places, so if you can use a different line, do.
It’s worth remembering that London is a great city to walk in – it’s full of parks, green spaces and beautiful buildings, so why not get out there and enjoy it rather than suffering in a packed, stuffy, underground train? Whether this means you take the tube some of the way and complete your journey on foot, or explore central London at street level, walking will certainly ease your journey and help your state of mind.
If you’re trying to get to work and walking is just not possible, or you’re a visitor to the city trying to explore somewhere a litte further afield, then getting a bus might be a good option. The Transport for London site provides details of bus routes across the capital.
Hopefully, at least one of the ‘Rs’ will be a possibility for you and will help the games – and summer in London – go smoothly.
There will be more tips, ideas and advice for all things Olympics over the next weeks and months and if there’s anything you’d like me to cover specifically, please let me know. You can also follow @GAOTG on Twitter for updates and information.