Olympic chiefs have pearl of idea for cashless Games

Every ticket sold for the 2012 Olympics could have an embedded Oyster Card – the electronic travel permit used by millions of Londoners – to encourage people to use public transport to travel to Games venues, which officials suggest could help to avoid the chaotic scenes seen outside Athens’ Olympic Stadium ahead of last week’s European Cup final.

The idea has been floated by Chris Townsend, the commercial director of LOCOG, who formerly worked at Transport for London where he was responsible for the launch of Oyster in June 2003. Oyster has 3.25 million customers, accounting for approximately 50 per cent of journeys on the TfL system. “We are keen to encourage the use of public transport for fans attending the Games,” he said.

Townsend is confident that the scheme can be given the go-ahead even though it could potentially clash with Visa’s worldwide sponsorship of the Olympics. This scheme, if it is approved, will help alleviate congestion by allowing the 9.7 million spectators expected to attend the 2012 Olympics using the single electronic pass for Tube, buses and venues.

“Having cars all heading into East London is going to be a shambles,” a source involved in the discussions said. “What [the authorities] want are people parking out in the peripheries and actually travelling in on an integrated basis – because otherwise queues at Stratford Station are just going to kill it; there will be a public order issue associated with that, and not least a potential security issue. Technology should become an enabler.”

It would also help reinforce London’s efforts to be the first truly “Green Games” in Olympic history. Under plans drawn up by the Olympic Development Agency, no parking will be provided for spectators except for some facilities for people with disabilities. Only the elite – competitors and officials – will be allowed to reach the venues by car and they will be given special priority on 130 miles of the road network.

Officials know that transport could make or break the London Olympics. Past successes such as Sydney – and failures such as Atlanta, always remembered to be the worst Games ever – have been judged on the ability of the hosts to get people to and from the venues efficiently.

â–  A British company is hoping that a solar-powered boat capable of carrying 120 passengers in complete silence with zero-emissions will be used to ferry spectators on the Thames to and from the Olympic venues in 2012.

SolarLab is responsible for developing some of the world’s most innovative solar powered boats including the Hamburg SolarShuttle. According to SolarLab the new SolarShuttle can eliminate the production of 2.5 tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year compared to a similar sized diesel boat. Models of the green ship already operate in Hamburg and Lake Constance in Germany.

The larger version, which they hope to use in 2012, has a 42-metre long hull and a maximum speed of 15 kph with a range of 60-100 km using its internal batteries which are charged using the sun. The SolarShuttle even generates surplus energy that can be fed back into the national grid.

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