Boris Johnson has compared worries about transport chaos surrounding next year’s Olympics to fears about the Millennium Bug.
While recycling the phrase “gloomadon poppers”, the Mayor said:
I genuinely believe that when the Games are under way, we will look back at the anxieties as a kind of Millennium Bug that never materialised because most people travelling in most parts of London will not even notice that the route network exists.
It is true that Games Lanes take up just a third of the Olympic Route Network, parts of the ORN will only be used on certain event days and the entire ORN only takes up 1% of London’s road network — but TfL are using all of London’s roads for that calculation. Pure numbers are a disingenuous way to talk about the ORN; surely a more appropriate method would be to look at how many of the city’s main arteries will be affected. It’s also too soon to declare how badly the roads will or will not be snarled up, since the statutory consultation has only just closed, but when TfL themselves warn about potential delays you know it’s not total hype.
What we can talk about with some certainty is public transport, which Boris has followed Caroline Pidgeon’s lead in urging Olympic VIPs to take. TfL’s own projections (PDF) are that even with a shift in commuter behaviour (working from home, going to the pub, etc) rush hour journeys on some days will be delayed. For example, don’t try and get a tube from Canary Wharf between 4.30pm and 7.30pm on 7 August unless you’re prepared to wait at least 15 minutes to get on a train, or Bond Street between 5pm and 7pm during the main Games, and we’re not sure we can even talk about London Bridge without having a minor breakdown.
Of course, it’s more fun for the media (and here we include ourselves) to write about potential chaos than stories about fluffy kittens and how everything’s going to be OK. But all projections reckon the only way things might be sort-of-not-awful is if we all keep out of London while the Olympics are on. The upside of that: at least none of us will know first hand what it’s like to be held for half an hour in a ticket hall in the height of summer.