Time to start travelling again?


201208010922.jpgLondoners have clearly been listening to TfL and the Olympic organisers.

Retailers are being hit as Londoners stay away - the Evening Standard even goes so far as to encourage people back into town:

"This is, in fact, an excellent time to be in London. It’s easier to get tickets for the best West End theatres than for months; the finest restaurants have free tables and the Tube system is running, to a great extent, reasonably well. The buses have certainly been disrupted, and some restrictions on pedestrians in central London seem zealous, but it’s possible to get around. There are, moreover, a number of interesting cultural events on offer which means that the spirit of the Games can be shared by those who don’t actually have tickets."

One wonders if the efforts to ease the strain on our transport network have been a little too successful. Given the current line being taken by the press, and the publicity given to certain people taking the Tube, it is easy to imagine that this is the beginning of a subtle campaign to get a few people back out and shopping, dining and generally enjoying the sights and sounds of London.

There have been mercifully few problems on the transport network so far, but largely businesses and commuters have been following the advice of the authorities and varying their journeys, or limiting them altogether. Even some of the Games Lanes have been opened back up for use by the public.

The vast upgrade and improvement programme across the network can account for some of the respite from headlines about 'nightmare journeys' but mostly, it comes down to the stain on the system being far more evenly spread.

As Christian Wolmar says, writing in The Times, perhaps this is the key legacy that London 2012 can leave for us:

"...the lessons learnt from this experience on being flexible about the way we travel may turn to be one of the key Olympic legacies. If the capital can survive without people having access to a big chunk of its road network then Londoners can learn to reduce their dependence on the car and it can open the way for more cycle lanes and pedestrianisation schemes."

Add to that sentiment greater flexible working, varied start and end hours, and flexibility with regards to taking different routes to your destination and we may just see a real, lasting legacy, that will benefit London for years to come.