NEWS

Crowd management for calm Olympic venues

During the Olympic Games, more than 2 million spectators will travel to and from the venues on Olympic buses. In many cases the buses will take passengers to the trams and trains. Spectators will be channeled to and from the bus terminuses, especially those that serve the sporting venues, by a tested method that is aimed at avoiding accidents and long delays. Those with experience of earlier Olympic Games know that measures for emptying stadiums rapidly and whisking spectators away smoothly and on to transport systems only work if crowd management techniques are employed. Terminuses The Athens Urban Transport Organization (OASA) has been working for some time with a large French firm (RTP) that specializes in crowd control. The plan concerns buses, the metro, the electric railway, the suburban railway and the tram. «We cannot let crowds of people arrive on train platforms,» OASA manager D. Patrikalakis told Kathimerini. The same care will be taken to control movement over large pedestrian bridges. Entry will be controlled and a central line will separate those coming and going. There will be no turning back for pedestrians who have forgotten something. Instead they will have to ask the help of volunteers, while still walking so as not to stop the flow, and the latter will try and help them. «Discipline and patience are what spectators will need in abundance,» said Patrikalakis. «At the exits to the venues, signs will clearly show people where to go. Special staff (mainly volunteers, but also police) will be positioned along the approach way to public transport, which will be extended – in a spiral if there is no room. These walkways will be 2 meters wide, lighted and clearly divided between incoming and outgoing passengers. Where space permits, the two lines will be completely separated.» The aim of crowd management is to have long, calm lines of people waiting to board transport so that crowds don’t bunch up at any point and increase the risk of accidents. Trained staff will control boarding, with at least one supervisor on every bus to make sure buses stop at the right places and indicate their departure. The same will apply to the trains and tram. Experts say crowd management begins long before passengers get to the bus stops or the stadiums. «No matter how much we try to channel the movement of spectators to and from the transport and stadiums,» explained Patrikalakis, obviously we cannot perform miracles. Waiting time and boarding time will be prolonged. Some people will have to wait two hours to get in to or out of the stadiums.» People with limited mobility will get special attention to help them move about independently and with ease. Low-riding buses have special ramps and there are special elevators for the trains and trams.