London’s transport chief has given warning that one of the biggest obstacles to helping business prepare for Olympic travel disruptions is getting companies to divulge information about their plans.
Peter Hendy, Transport for London commissioner, said some large companies that had devised plans to keep their businesses going while the transport system was under pressure were reluctant to share details that would help TfL advise the wider business community.
“The biggest problem has been getting companies to share their plans,” Mr Hendy told the Financial Times. “The big supermarkets, like Sainsbury’s and Tesco, have cracked it, but they won’t share.”
He acknowledged that some of their planning included commercially sensitive information, adding: “They have a competitive edge – why would they [share]?”
Mr Hendy was speaking at a conference for small and medium-sized enterprises on operational planning during the Olympics, at which TfL launched a “one-stop shop” website for businesses to receive detailed predictions on transport flows.
TfL has already given warning that the Olympic and Paralympic Games will disrupt transport for 100 days, as about 5.3m visitors are expected.
Boris Johnson, mayor of London, urged SME representatives not to believe the “myths” about the Olympic Route Network – special lanes throughout the city for the 50,000-strong Olympic “family” – saying this would probably be in place for only 16 days, from just before the opening ceremony on July 27.
He said transport was the “most important” factor to get right, adding: “We will not forgive ourselves if we get it wrong.”
The mayor said the Olympics was a “massive” business opportunity “provided London business has growing confidence and understanding of what’s going on”.
TfL said it had received only five case studies from companies.
The information that Sainsbury’s has agreed to share with TfL includes plans to deploy its facilities management team on mopeds so they can reach the chain’s 200 or so outlets faster.
Sainsbury’s said it had “held a number of discussions” with TfL, adding: “At this stage we need detailed information from TfL before we can finalise our own plans, or indeed share them with other organisations.”
Tesco said it had recently met TfL to “hear their plans and share our thinking”. Its plans were “by no means close to being finalised”.
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