It’s sure to be a familiar action over the coming weeks: a newcomer to London visits the Transport for London website to use its comprehensive Journey Planner facility and plan their trip to the Olympic Park.
Except, er, Journey Planner doesn’t seem to recognise the phrase “Olympic Park”.
Type in a journey from, say, “Canada Water” to “Olympic Park”, select ‘place of interest’ from the drop-down menu, and the website offers you three suggestions: the Olympic Cafe in Hammersmith, the Olympic Cafe in West Ham or the Olympic Retail Park in Wembley. Of the three, the Olympic Cafe in West Ham is not a great distance from the Park, but the others are nowhere near.
Things become even more muddled if you select ‘address’ from the drop-down menu: the user is presented with Olympic Yard (W2), Olympic Square (HA9), Olympic Way (HA9) and Olympic Way (UB6), but no Olympic Park. Switching to ‘station or stop’ from the drop-down, we finally have a glimmer of luck: the second option is “Olympic Park North”, although the recommended route is a confusing one that drops us on the Hackney Wick side of the Park, near to the Victoria Gate entrance.
Drop the word “Park” from the entry, however, and things click into place: options including “Olympic Games, Athletics” or “Olympic Games, Hockey” suddenly become available. Journey Planner works by identifying every transport marker in London, from Tube and train stations to bus stops; clearly nobody has thought to name one of them “Olympic Park”.
Given the expensive and extensive wayfinding and information campaign TfL have embarked upon, it would take the most muddle-headed of tourists to find themselves rocking up in Wembley and expecting to find the Park (and most are likely to be using the dedicated Spectator Journey Planner instead) but it does seem a strange anomaly.
Update: Seems this might not be an isolated case…. as KenningtonPOB just pointed out to us on Twitter: “Put ‘Olympic Velodrome’ in JouneyPlanner. Tick ‘Place of Interest’. Directions to Herne Hill velodrome are given.”.
Hat tip: @swix for bringing this to our attention