London 2012 Olympics: Public transport issues already sprouting

By Matt Brooks

Washington, D.C.’s much-maligned Metro is not the only public transportation feeling the heat this summer.

Three days out from the London Olympics’ opening ceremony, the city’s public transportation system is bracing for a massive increase in riders — and organizers are already fielding complaints from media and spectators alike over substantial delays.

Long lines and lengthy delays Tuesday at St. Pancras — the central Tube station — turned the 6-7 minute trip to Olympic Park in east London into a 50-minute odyssey for some media members and ticket holders, as the Associated Press reported. And those delays might seem minimal when the full crush of fans converge on the city in the coming days. London’s subway and train system expects an increase of up to 3 million passengers per day over the course of the Games.

Tuesday’s delays on the new high-speed “Javelin” line stemmed from issues further down the track, according to a spokesman for Southeastern, which operates the line.

“It will get busy,” London transport chief, Peter Hendy said. “It has got busy already. There will be some queues.”

Britain has spent more than 6.5 billion pounds ($10 billion) to upgrade its extensive transportation system, and the “Javelin” — which can move about 25,000 people per hour and will run 24 hours a day — should help keep patrons on the move.

Transportation to Olympic events is free for ticket holders, but if the delays mount and fans miss kick-off or the starting gun, that will provide little consolation.

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