Public transport only for London, unless you're one of 80,000 privileged VIPs
23 October 2007

The organisers of the 2012 London Olympics intend to ban all public cars from the venues and dedicate lanes for VIP access on major trunk roads in and around the capital.

Original plans to build a giant park-and-ride system from the M25 and M11 have been scrapped as part of an unashamedly aggressive anti-car policy, which the organising committee hopes will encourage spectators to change their transport habits in the long term.

Car exclusion zones will be set up around the venues in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle, Glasgow, Cardiff and Weymouth, with exceptions made for some disabled spectators.

In London, where most of the events will take place, special car lanes leading to the venues are to be sectioned off for the ‘Olympic family’ only, a group which consists of around 80,000 athletes, officials and media. Fast-track lanes will be shut off in already clogged up areas such as Hyde Park Corner, Parliament Square, the Embankment, Tower Hill and The Highway out to Stratford and are likely to be heavily monitored by cameras and police.

Everyone else will be forced to use public transport, walk or cycle to get near the Olympic sites. The best transport details are to be sent out with tickets along with a free all-zones London travelcard. The Olympic committee has five years to sort out the infrastructure needed to carry around 800,000 people to and from the venues at peak times.

It doesn't seem confident. Keen to avoid a repeat of the embarrassing scenes at the Millennium Dome in 2000, when VIPs got stuck on trains trying to get in, the International Olympic Committee will be ordering a fleet of 3500 cars to ferry its members and athletes between venues using the dedicated car lanes.

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These taxis will adhere to a strict fuel-consumption standard but are ‘unlikely’ to produce under the 120g/km CO2 emissions that would usually qualify them for congestion charge exemption.

Will Powell

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