London 2012 - Coe: Transport vital to 2012 success
The success of the London Olympics hangs on the city's ability to overcome the problems associated with its much maligned public transport system, according to 2012 Games chief Sebastian Coe.
The city was in danger of being bracketed with the 1996 Atlanta Olympics if it failed to get its transport policy right, he told London Assembly lawmakers, with the risk of long-term damage to its reputation for attracting investment and tourists.
Coe insists that the planned Olympic Route Network - designated traffic lanes used to whisk athletes, officials and sponsors to venues - is necessary to help deliver a smooth Games.
"The Olympic route planning is about functionality it's not about glamour," Coe added, warning that London would spend 50 years trying to live down a failed transport policy.
"You have a choice, you can have this city remembered as a Barcelona or an Atlanta."
Atlanta's overloaded transport system struggled to get athletes and spectators to venues, causing widespread frustration. Barcelona in 1992 was hailed as a model Games.
London's transport network, already creaking under the burden of 24 million trips a day, has consistently been raised as a concern by International Olympic Committee inspectors.
During peak time the number of journeys is expected to increase by 12.5 per cent, something which is manageable with a sensible approach, according to John Armitt, chairman of the ODA, the body responsible for getting the Games ready.
The city's roads are among the most congested in the world, and the idea of the ORN scheme has angered residents.
But Coe said it would account for less than 1 per cent of the total road network, and only about 5 per cent of people using it would travel by car with the rest using buses.
The Olympic bodies are liaising with businesses about traffic orders, while working with bodies, including Transport for London, and unions, whose members have staged a number of recent strikes on London Underground over pay.
"You cannot have the most exciting place in the world for that period without some inconvenience, but the inconvenience I believe will be massively offset by the phenomenal things that will be happening at that time," Armitt said.