Gold to London for Logistics

August 03, 2012

Prior to the Olympics, the forecasts were frightening. I'm not talking about the weather here. I'm talking about logistics, the process of getting into and out of Olympic venues. London was depicted as an armed fortress. Supposedly, security lines would take hours. Tickets would have to be accompanied by passports. Transport would be strained. The wise Olympic spectator was advised to leave his lodgings in central London about three hours before the start of an event.

Happily, on the first day of track and field, none of that proved true. The underground trundled us briskly from Tottenham Court Road to Stratford, the East London station closest to Olympic Park. There was a throng, but it moved. We had to walk about a half mile. Cheerful Brits with megaphones, perched on stepladders, advised us when we needed to turn. Our tickets were scanned, but no further ID was required. There was an airport-style security check, though we could keep our shoes on. It had no lines. If the American Transportation Security Administration were running the show, it would undoubtledly have closed a few scanners until a satisfactory queue had formed. And it would have fired the ticket-scanners for smiling at the customers.

At the end of the evening, all 70,000 moved without any agoraphobia-inducing jams. I even got a seat on the train back to London.  

The only lines of consequence were at the food and drink stands. I guess that the organizers took a look at the cost of efficiently feeding and watering 70,000 spectators in half an hour and decided the investment wasn't worth it. So the line for a Coke (official Olympic cola) and a pre-wrapped sandwich took half an hour. There was an even longer line at the stand for alcohol.

Maybe that's a good thing.