Olympic organisers have some travel advice for the millions of people who work and live in London: Be patient. Have a beer.
Work from home. Rejecting suggestions of possible transport chaos during the July 27-August 12 games, they unveiled a 8.8 million-pound campaign yesterday to persuade city residents to change their travel patterns to ease the strain on public transport.
Even as London Mayor Boris Johnson tried to focus attention on the positive, transport officials had to bat back demands by the Rail, Maritime and Transport union for more money. Union officials say subway staff are not being offered enough to compensate them for working more hours and erratic schedules during the Summer Olympics.
The fresh union demands came just moments before London transport officials unveiled posters, signs and banners to make travelers aware of how to handle transport issues during the games. Johnson directed his remarks at what he called "Olympo-skeptics." "They predict that tumbleweed will be going down Shaftesbury Avenue,"
Johnson said, referring to a main London thoroughfare. "They are completely wrong and mistaken and missing a huge opportunity to profit." London transport officials have been at pains in recent weeks to downplay concerns about whether the city's aging transportation system can handle the extra traffic from tourists, spectators and others expected to use the network.
Officials point to a 6.5 billion-pound investment in the transport system. They say train journeys are faster and note that many more trains will run and that some will even have air conditioning during the games.