By Daniel Hunter
The London Assembly Transport Committee has today (Friday) written to the Mayor to welcome the good progress made on preparing the transport network to cope with the 2012 Games — but some elements of the plans remain a concern.
The Jubilee line — a key route to the Olympic Park and other Games venues - continues to be an issue. Largely thanks to heavily delayed upgrade works, the line suffers regular disruption, and is the only Underground line to see an increase in delays caused by infrastructure failures during the latest published performance period.
With the Games mere months away the Jubilee line is also yet to run the increased fleet of trains Transport for London (TfL) has promised. Extra trains will be introduced on 25 March but the Committee is concerned about whether this leaves adequate time for testing. It wants the Mayor to set out details of what is being done to make sure the Jubilee line is up to scratch before the Games.
The letter also flags up the potential for the Olympic Route Network (ORN) to confuse motorists, and to worsen traffic congestion and air pollution. It calls on the Games Family to use public transport wherever possible, and for the ‘Games Lanes’ that form part of the ORN to be open to emergency vehicles at all times — and to Londoners when they are not busy — to help keep traffic flowing.
“Given the scale of the challenges, some disruption to the transport network is inevitable. Keeping the capital moving smoothly during the Games will be nothing short of a Herculean task," Caroline Pidgeon AM, Chair of the Transport Committee, said.
“The amount of work that’s going in to getting our already overburdened transport network ready to carry millions of extra athletes, officials and spectators is very impressive.
“We are, however, keen to get some reassurance about the few areas — like the Jubilee line, local parking arrangements and the Olympic Route Network — that are still letting down what are otherwise very robust preparations.”
Committee Members share some of London Councils’ concerns about the way local traffic and parking will be managed. Vehicle access checkpoints and the complexity of the proposed virtual vehicle permit system could cause problems for local residents.
TfL and Locog are urged to work with London boroughs to resolve parking and enforcement issues as quickly as possible.
The Committee’s letter also highlights issues around: changing the timing of freight deliveries, especially for small businesses; more work needed to encourage walking and cycling; and potential difficulties for Londoners with reduced mobility trying to get around during the Games.
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