Steve Townsend, CIO of Transport for London (TfL), told a recent O2 Enterprise Leadership customer session how his organisation took on the challenge of Olympic and Paralympic fever.

As soon as we began planning for the Olympics and Paralympics, we knew that the key to exceeding customer expectations would lie in managing them. After all, the hype around the Games was like nothing we’d seen for years. And, as stewards of London’s transport networks, we were under more intense scrutiny than ever before in the build-up to the summer.

We succeeded because of two major factors: our people delivered, and our customers delivered as well.

If you visited the capital in the first half of 2012, you’ll have seen the massive campaign advising Londoners of the impending disruption. All the stakeholders, not just us, needed behaviour change on a grand scale.

We encouraged people to explore alternatives to their usual journeys and make changes where possible. It worked; we gained 20 per cent more capacity for people visiting the Games by changing commuter travel habits and motivating TfL staff to go the extra mile.

If you want numbers, try these:

  • Over 11 million ticketed spectators in London for the Games.
  • Over 60 million tube journeys during the Olympics – up 30 per cent on normal summer levels.
  • 12 million journeys made on London’s public transport network every day.

The part our own people played was immense. Our workforce turned Transport for London into a city-wide team of travel ambassadors.

So where was the technology in all this? Well, it played a vital part, but we always saw it as an enabler, not the end solution.

The most visible features of our technology strategy were the iPads we issued to front line staff – 4000 in all. The apps we provided made sure our people were at least as well-informed as the travelling public, and we added more apps as we learned what people needed most.

If you believed some of the press reports before the games, London was doomed to disastrous disruption during the summer. The national mood of celebration proved the pessimists wrong, thanks in no small part to our customers and our people.

And here’s the only statistic that really matters:

  • 82% of people we surveyed said that London’s trains, boats, buses and cabs had worked well during the Games.

Bring on the World Cup – sometime…

For more information visit , or call Matt Worth on 01235 433 507.

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