Going for Gold: Delivering Excellent Transport for London's 2012 Olympic Games (HC 588-ii)
Transport Committee 26 Oct 2005
Evidence given by Mr Jim Sloman, former Chief Operating Officer at Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (SOCOG) Mr Tim O'Toole, Managing Director, London Underground, Mr Hugh Sumner, Director of Olympic Transport, Transport for London (TfL), Mr Keith Mills, Deputy Chairman, and Mr Wilben Short, Senior Transport Adviser, London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (LOCOG)
Q211 Mr. David Clelland: Mr Sloman, you mentioned earlier the lessons that can be learned from Sydney and from Athens. Have you any specific lessons for us in terms of transport provision? Were any mistakes made and how can we avoid them?
Mr Sloman: In terms of transport, I think, looking back on it, we were lucky in terms of our railways. We had a number of issues with rail in the years leading up to the Games with derailments, and there was certainly a lot of media speculation that the Olympics would be a disaster because our transport system would fail. I would have preferred a lot better back up to the rail system than we had, and, of course, the weather went well for us. If I could recommend anything it is get the weather right.
Mr. David Clelland: That is a bit more difficult for us than it is for you, I think.
Q215 Mr. David Clelland: Could I ask about the provision of information to the users of public transport during the Games? Was information available in foreign languages?
Mr Sloman: From memory it was only available in English and French, which are the two languages you are required to provide for the IOC. What we did have, though, was a very big language services division of the Organising Committee which provided information particularly to the constituent groups, and it provided people at venues, it provided people in the villages, it provided people in the hotels that had a variety of language capability. We also had a service where people could bring in and get information in a variety of languages. So they had that issue. It was covered that way. We also are a very cosmopolitan city. We are a city basically of immigrants and we have a huge European background and we now have a huge Asian background as well, so we have a wide variety of people. I do not think we have people speaking 300 languages, or 200 languages, as you have in London, so we do not have the capability that you have even got in that area here, but we provided a service that was more than adequate in meeting the requirements of people that needed that sort of help.
Q216 Mr. David Clelland: What about information for people who might have visual problems and people who are disabled in terms of transport and information? What was done there?
Mr Sloman: We did a huge job, I think, in terms of providing assistance to people with disabilities. We provided special parking, special access, at all the venues for people who needed to be delivered there in a private sense rather than in a public sense. All our buses here were disabled friendly so that people in wheelchairs, whatever, could access them easily. Similarly, it was very well communicated in terms of what railway stations, etcetera, could be accessed by people with disabilities. We provided a special service in Olympic Park for people to get onto what was called a loop road and be provided with access through the rear entrance of the stadiums, the venues, if you like. People buying tickets had a special service as well in that they were able to get one-on-one assistance when they were seeking to buy tickets so that they knew where they could sit with that sort of capability within the venues.
Q224 Mr. David Clelland: You mentioned briefly the disruption to the everyday lives of the citizens of Sydney, and there must have been extensive disruption during the construction period and during the Games in their ability to get to and from work and just around the city. How was that accepted by the people of Sydney? Were there massive protests or did they take it in good heart? Are there any PR lessons you can let us have?
Mr Sloman: Yes, we have got what I would call a fairly feral press here, as I detect you have got in London as well, that will jump on those sorts of issues, and, yes, there were people who complained about being disrupted and those sorts of thing. It is incredibly important that you have a very strong communication group who actually feed information on a regular basis to people. I think one of the great advantages London has, for example, on Olympic lines is that you already have bus lanes that are highly disciplined, congestion charges, those sorts of things, so people are used to the sort of discipline that is needed to be able to provide those sorts of services to people. The bigger issues for us I think were dealing with, for example, shopkeepers, retailers, who were on Olympic routes who suddenly lost the ability for customers to park outside and all those things, and that does require a lot of community work. You have to deal with the community, deal with the people that are being involved, let them understand what you are doing, how you are going to help them through that process and that takes an enormous amount of work. It takes a lot of work and it takes a lot of communication to make it happen.
This is an uncorrected transcript of evidence taken in public and reported to the House. The transcript has been placed on the internet on the authority of the Committee. Neither witnesses nor Members have had the opportunity to correct the record. The transcript is not yet an approved formal record of these proceedings.
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