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London to offer commuters Olympic distractions

Updated: 2012-03-08 14:44
( Agencies)

London to offer commuters Olympic distractions

The sun sets behind the Olympic Stadium and Orbit tower at the Olympic Park in Stratford in east London March 7, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]

LONDON - In a bid to cajole London office workers in congested Olympic areas to postpone their journey home during the Games this summer, London's transport operator has launched a voucher scheme offering commuters cheap theatre and cinema tickets.

Transport has been a growing worry among businesses in London, with 44 percent citing it as their chief concern over the Olympic Games in a survey conducted by global consultancy firm Deloitte.

Transport for London's (TfL) voucher scheme -- which includes other discount offers -- goes beyond previous efforts to ask the public to avoid London's congested transport network, which carries 1.1 billion passengers annually and is expected to come under significant strain with hundreds of thousands of added visitors in town for the July 27-Aug 12 Games.

West End theatres have partnered with the transport operator to provide 10 pound tickets for sale to workers who can prove they work in Games transport "hotspot" areas, such as Westminster and Canary Wharf.

The added audiences could also help theatres to avoid any losses in attendance due to lack of available hotel rooms in the capital for regular summer holiday groups.

Musical composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, whose Really Useful Group operates many London theatres and whose Phantom of the Opera draws tourist crowds, said last year that West End theatre was in for a "bloodbath of a summer" and that declining audiences would force some shows to close.

Ben Plowden, director of surface planning at TfL, said that the games would run smoothly if people can be made to change their habits.

"We are teaming up with a range of London's top attractions to ensure that people able to travel home outside peak hours on the busiest days are spoilt for choice when deciding how to spend their evening," he said.

"It will be perfectly manageable, if everyone is able to contribute his best as employees or members of the traveling public."

Plowden also said that the Underground would suspend normal maintenance during the games so that staff could be focused on dealing with an immediate problem that may affect lines, such as a diesel spill or cable theft, and restore service as quickly as possible.