"Gridlock Games"? Is London's Transport System Rising to the Challenge?
With Olympic fever finally upon us, months of speculation will come to a head with a conclusive two-week display - and we're not talking about the medal tally. This fortnight, Boris Johnson comes under the spotlight as London's transport system hopes to stay cool under the pressure.
The build-up hasn't inspired confidence in Londoners - despite smooth pre-Games operation, transport authorities warned passengers “not to chance it” by expecting services to run as normal in the capital today, when the system faced its first major test of combining weekday commuter traffic with a full day of Olympic events.
The results, according Transport for London, have been medal-worthy, with traffic levels on Friday standing at an esimated 15% below those of normal weekdays, apparently a successful result of the copious warnings to travellers to avoid the roads and rails during Games-time. With the traffic load sustained at around 13.5% below average today, the first week day of the Games, things seem to be going swimmingly.
However, a report from the Independent, in which three bold journalists test-drove London's transport system today, found the odd chink in its armour. There were 12-mile tailbacks on the M4, tube trains showed cracks from the heat, and most unusually of all, the Emirates Air Line cable car in East London came to an unexpected halt, stranding sixty passengers in mid-air for half an hour.
Nevertheless, TfL have so far achieved what once seemed near-impossible - keeping Londoners and Olympians on the move.
Whether you're hitting the Games by road, rail, or taking to the skies, pick a gold medal winner from Gate8.