The preparation of the transport plan for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games is a long journey, from the organization of “bursts” of buses in the suburbs to the orientation of spectators, explains its author Laurence Debrincat, director of forecasting and studies. at Ile-de-France Mobilités (IDFM), the regional transport authority.
“We have been working since Paris’s bid for the Olympics,” says Ms. Debrincat to AFP. “At the time, we had a fairly rustic model, with a large Excel spreadsheet” to see which services were possible, starting from a fictitious calendar based on the London events in 2012.
Things obviously became more concrete when Paris was officially chosen to host the Games in September 2017.
Laurence Debrincat’s team – fifteen full-time people – first looked at the capacities of stations and stations, which are, she says, “a rather limiting factor”. Many metro stations, in particular, were not designed to accommodate large crowds.
Typically, the Etoile Royale, which will host equestrian events at the bottom of the Versailles park, is served by the new T13 tram-train. But this one is very insufficient to transport the expected spectators.
“We must not send thousands of spectators to lines that do not have the capacity because it can be extremely dangerous, create crowd movements, etc.” says the manager. “Suddenly, we started looking for stations a little further. Either it remains accessible on foot, or it is not and in this case, we worked on bus shuttles.”
For the Royal Star, you will have to take a bus from Versailles.
Rolling these shuttles requires a lot of work, since it is necessary to create ex nihilo real temporary bus stations which will make it possible to “send the buses in bursts”. This also requires finding space to park the said buses.
The seven million spectators of the Olympic Games, from July 26 to August 11, 2024, must be able to reach the 25 competition sites by public transport. In the middle of summer, when a third of regular travelers are on vacation.
– “Olympic app” –
“During the day, we will have the equivalent of a big winter day, (with) trips that will be much more concentrated in Paris and at the level of the sites” – 12 in the capital and 13 in the suburbs –, foresees Laurence Debrincat.
“We compared the traffic line by line, hour by hour, with the usual service capacities in the summer to ask ourselves: + is there a need to strengthen the offer or does it go like that?+” Transport operators will have to be ready.
“The closer we get to the event, the more we go into detail,” remarks Ms. Debrincat. We count the number of barriers needed to channel the crowds, for example. The organizers regularly take stock with representatives of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
“We have now set up a much more complicated model which allows us to anticipate flows on the entire network” by taking into account the places of residence of the spectators. “And we will wait for the statistics of the sales of single tickets, which will allow us to refine our hypotheses”, she explains.
“We made observations (…) to know how long in advance the spectators arrive and how long it takes them to leave. There are sites where the spectators will really have to leave very, very quickly since there will be several sessions throughout the day.”
The whole gives “days which are more complicated than others”, July 30 being according to her “the most complex day”.
To guide spectators, IDFM is working on “an Olympic application”, a variant of its usual app. “We are going to discuss in the weeks and months to come with other route calculators”, such as Google Maps or Citymapper, to offer routes passing through lines with enough capacity.
Now that the transport plan is established, IDFM is working on the “plans B”. Plan alternative routes in the event of a breakdown, of course, or consider other difficulties: What do we do if the events are delayed? “There are also competitions that can be postponed the next day if the weather conditions are really terrible,” shuddered Ms. Debrincat.