Transportation at The Olympics in Vancouver

February 24, 2010

Hosting an Olympic Games is a huge logistical challenge, involving the transportation of athletes, coaches, officials, spectators, marketing partner guests, Olympics workforce, and members of the media, among others, all of whom need to arrive at competition venues before the competition starts. At the same time, daily life in the host city must go on, along with the transportation demands that creates.

The 2010 Winter Olympics being held in Vancouver, British Columbia posed a particular challenge, as Vancouver is the largest city ever to host the Winter Games. In addition, competition venues for downhill skiing, Nordic skiing, and sliding events are located in the resort community of Whistler, while the majority of the available lodging for spectators is located in the Vancouver region, a two-hour drive south of Whistler.

Strategic planning for transportation occurred in 2007 with the development of strategic plans for the Greater Vancouver Region and Whistler, along with the Sea-to-Sky Highway corridor that connects the two areas. These plans included estimating travel demand by day, based on different scenarios involving event schedules (including contingencies for weather-related delays), ticketing options (e.g., access to a venue for an entire day vs. access to a specific competition), and the number of spectator seats available at each venue. Traffic management options also had to be considered, due to parking and road capacity constraints, and the need to ensure reliable transportation connections for participants and spectators.

Kittelson & Associates, Inc. (KAI), as a subconsultant to Bunt & Associates, evaluated spectator bus transportation needs through the Sea-to-Sky Corridor based on the various travel demand scenarios and planned park-and-ride and pick-up locations in the Vancouver region. KAI also evaluated the ability of the Greater Vancouver Region’s public transportation system to accommodate the additional demand generated by Olympics-related travel. As planning for the Games progressed, KAI also assisted Bunt in planning the bus passenger drop-off areas at the Creekside venue in Whistler and creating a simulation model of the key roadway providing access to Whistler venues.

During the first week of the Games, Vancouver’s public transit system smoothly carried record numbers of riders1 and, with the notable exception of some chartered buses breaking down2 two days prior to the start of competition at Cypress Mountain in North Vancouver, the dedicated Olympics transportation system3 has moved hundreds of thousands of people to and from competition venues as planned. One reporter attended six competitions in Whistler and Vancouver and one press conference in one day4 using a combination of the Olympics media bus system and public transportation.

Quick transportation facts: About 5,500 athletes and officials are attending the Winter Games, along with 10,000 accredited media representatives. Approximately 1.6 million spectator tickets are available for the 17 days of the Games. A total of 2,800 bus drivers have been hired for the dedicated Olympics bus systems that move all of these people and more.

References
 1 TransLink online article
 2 Vancouver Sun online article
 3 Vancouver 2010 online article
 4 ESPN online article

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