I am back in Atlanta following an incredible experience working the London Olympics. With the games now over, the world is heaping praise on London for hosting such an excellent spectacle. After the well-publicized anxieties about London's preparedness in the days before the games, the years of planning kicked in, and the pieces fell into place.
I saw this first-hand as I consulted with the Olympic Delivery Authority and Sparrowhawk, Inc., who were responsible for the planning and implementation of the off-site park-and-ride lots. The first half of my trip meant long hours, but as the days went on, things got easier, leading to shorter days and a lot more fun.
The overall transportation plan was a success, largely because it discouraged the use of private vehicles. With just a few exceptions, everybody got where they needed to go on time, with reasonable comfort. The success resulted from excellent planning by the organizations mentioned above and others.
Basic transportation management was the key. This included encouraging the use of efficient modes, discouraging unnecessary automobile travel, giving priority to VIPs, and providing clear information to users.
The London Underground, the city's subway system, is the true transportation hero. It swallowed hundreds of thousands of additional riders each day. Much like Atlanta did in the run-up to the 1996 games, London frightened the general public with transport horror stories so that enough of them left town during the games, leaving capacity for the Olympic crush.
The London Underground developed such a good reputation, Kobe, Lebron, and the rest of the men's basketball team were spotted riding it!
The other transport heroes are the buses, double-decker in particular. Thousand of these buses, both city buses and Olympic shuttles, seamlessly ferried spectators from one venue to another with relative ease.
London earned the praise now being lavished upon it, thanks to excellent planning and execution in all aspects of the games, parking included.