Tensions could rise during the Olympic Games as athletes and VIPs enjoy priority lanes while ordinary commuters are left stuck in traffic, Labour has warned.
Concerns have been raised over a two-tier transport system during next year’s event by Shadow Olympics minister Tessa Jowell. She suggested a certain number of taxis should be allowed to use the special lanes that will be put in place to ensure competitors are not late for their events.
Some 97 per cent of visitors to the Olympic Park are expected to use public transport, according to Jowell, but she said the public should be kept informed of any delays or road closures because of the Olympic lanes.
Jowell pointed out that the Olympic lanes were designed after observing the Atlanta games in 1996 when she proposed an amendment to the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Bill.
“I think we should perhaps constantly draw attention to all those who have eligibility to use the Olympic lanes that actually the rest of London will be getting to the Olympic Park on the fantastic new transport system in which so much has been invested,” said Jowell.
“I think we have got to anticipate that if there is a sense of two classes of travellers to the Olympic Park, those whose journeys are hell and those who glide down the Olympic lanes, it will very quickly become a source of tension because that’s the kind of city that London is.”
Sports minister Hugh Robertson conceded transport problems brought on by the Olympics could “cause very considerable annoyance and irritation at a time when we would like the whole country to come together and celebrate a London Olympics”.
But he said ministers wanted the network to run with minimal disruption
Meanwhile, MPs have decided to give the Government special powers to let companies bypass bureaucratic environmental laws during the Olympics Games. The laws prevent them from taking deliveries outside of certain hours.
The Government gave the changes the green light after Transport for London said that companies would face significant difficulties in taking stock if strict rules which are currently in place could not be adjusted at short notice during the event, according to Robertson.