That special brand of willful unawareness that Londoners display when in the commuting zone would have to have been set to max over the last year or so to miss the relentless barrage of information from TfL over how the Games will affect travel. It might well bring travel chaos, but the legacy of transport investment will benefit London long after the closing ceremony.
Recently re-elected London Mayor Boris Johnson pooh-poohed transport fears last year, recycling the neologic ‘gloomadon poppers’ to describe doom-mongerers fretting about how the tube system will cope. It’s basically either going to be an unmitigated catastrophe or it’s going to go so swimmingly. No-one may need to take TfL’s advice to go down the pub after work. Not that many of us need an excuse to slip in a swift post-work pint. Actually, in light of the Central Line’s recent soaking thanks to a burst Thames Water main, perhaps ‘swimmingly’ isn’t an ideal turn of phrase.
The upside to an impending few weeks of delays is the legacy of a transport network upgraded to cope with a few extra millions of people. We’re already seeing some of benefits of £6.5bn dropped into the capital’s transport infrastructure-shaped black hole; the DLR has been extended and the Jubilee Line isn’t nearly as hopelessly unreliable as it used to be. The Central Line has extra capacity, though it seems even having doors opening both sides at Stratford isn’t enough to stop people blocking them. The Barclays Cycle Hire scheme has been extended east and London’s cycling network is finally receiving the attention it deserves.
Another upside and hopefully a lasting legacy is that employers are at last accepting that working from home doesn’t equate to watching daytime TV in one’s jim-jams and flexible working is a viable solution. Not just for businesses, but for transport too, so we could see less strain on the network in rush hour in future. Mind you, anyone who’s spent an enforced ‘snow day’ building a snowman and then posting pictures of it on Facebook may wish that their employer was less prepared for unexpected working from home.
There’s a lot to criticise about what Boris Johnson and TfL have done for London’s Olympics (cable car, unpopular ORNs) but there’s also a lot to be pleased with which is going to be with us even after the bunting has been taken down.