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London 2012 Olympics - network management lessons

On the 11 July 2013 Vernon Everitt Managing Director, Customer Experience, Marketing & Communications at Transport for London gave a presentation to the UK Network Management Board. Vernon outlined what TfL did in travel demand management for the 2012 Olympics, what they had learnt and how these lessons could be applied more widely.

Vernon ran a presentation that demonstrated a user’s experiences of two journeys for getting to an Olympic venue – the first one by public transport, the second on the road network.

Travel Demand Management - Olympic Legacy [please note some content is missing as video content shown at the meeting is not available here]

Public transport – the first thing that was issued to the customer was a travel ticket in advance of the event meaning that there was no need to queue up on the day of the event. There were lots of visible Olympics helpers on hand to give out material (18m maps were distributed). Improving the understanding of London’s geography was a legacy benefit. There was lots of information on accessibility issues for venues. Furthermore hotspot messaging – informing people to avoid busy periods assisted with taking the pressure of peak periods. Further information was provided on tube carriages. The use of magenta as a colour was selected (as opposed to yellow which might imply an emergency) helped people identify Olympics helpers. The continuity of the colour used throughout the messaging for Olympics events helped people identify easily with the information.

Key points: seamless information/ticketing/signage
Road network – the Olympics Lanes and the Olympic Route Network were in operation only when needed and were suspended on occasions using VMS. The aim was to be open and transparent about the lane closures. The suspension of planned road works during the Olympics period helped. Traffic signalling was managed to smooth traffic flows. VMS signage was used to highlight when the ORN was open to general use (60-70% of the time). There was also a proportionate response/view of enforcement issues.

Results - 75% of regular travellers changed behaviour at some point and on any one day 35% of people changed their travel behaviour (the main change was with working from home or flexing the start of end times of the day – changing journey mode was the least popular option).
Published grids of hot-spots. This was rather ‘scary’ messages to put out but it did encourage behavioural change. Open data is important and should be supported.

The Get Ahead of the Games (GAOTG) twitter feed was popular with 40,000 followers and a legacy benefit it to translate the users of this feed to the TfL twitter feed on travel alerts (which has 77,000 followers).

Collaboration with the freight industry and wider business community was important. As soon as London won the bid the thinking and approach to collaboration and partnership working started.

Every Olympic city, apart from London, experienced a dip in visitors after the Olympic event. TfL now has a dedicated travel demand team. Furthermore the recent publication of the Roads Task Force report [] which has some radical thinking on how the road network will operate in the future. In the Autumn TfL will publish a hotspot map of London’s transport network to enable people to have information to make an informed choice about their journey and one which might lead to changing the route or timing of their journey.

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