Three buses that have taken more than 280,000 people around the Olympic Park since 2007 - from the Royal Family to thousands of local residents - were today retired from service after four-and-a-half years.
The free London 2012 tour programme, which has covered 122,000km in total - three times the circumference of the Earth - was established to give local residents, visitors and stakeholders an insight into what was happening on the site and was pivotal for community engagement and consultation. A team of Blue Badge guides from the host boroughs and across London, and a number of specially selected travel ambassadors, were hired and trained by the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) to tell the story of the Games and detail the progress made on the venues and infrastructure.
Tours began in September 2007 – back then the area was a blank canvas after more than 200 buildings had been demolished and construction work just started. Four-and-a-half years later and the Olympic Park is approaching the finish line, with all of the main venues having been structurally completed by the ODA a year ahead of the Games, allowing the London Organising Committee (LOCOG) the opportunity to start their Games-time overlay as early as possible.
The bus service grew from one blue bus to three including pink and green versions and had up to 20 tours a day at its peak, with a record of 99 tours in a single week, during March 2012. A dedicated team of three local drivers – two women and a man – have driven the three branded London 2012 buses.
It ends as LOCOG enters into the busiest stage of its work - with just two months until the Opening Ceremony - to allow the park to become fully prepared for the Games.
Dennis Hone, ODA Chief Executive, said: “Anyone who came on a tour in the early days needed an excellent imagination as they were presented with mounds of earth and vast areas of space. Now the scene speaks for itself as the skyline is punctuated with the new venues that have been built.
“We recognised early on that these tours would be an overwhelming hit with residents and stakeholders alike. We should never underestimate how they have helped our closest neighbours feel involved in the project and help compensate for several years of living next to a construction site.”
Paul Deighton, LOCOG Chief Executive said: “The tours of the Olympic Park have given us another way of bring people with us on the journey to the Games from the clean-up of the site through to the final preparations. Nearly 300,000 people, most of them living locally, have been able to see first-hand the transformation of the area and learn about the scale of the challenge of hosting the Games this summer.”
Famous faces to have toured the park as part of the programme have included:
Sports stars: David Beckham, Sir Chris Hoy, Rebecca Adlington, Luol Deng, Tom Daley, Ellie Simmonds and a host of other Team GB and Paralympics GB hopefuls.
Royalty: HM The Queen, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, HRH The Princess Royal, The Duchess of Cambridge and other members of the Royal Family.
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