‘Transport center’ to handle traffic during Tokyo Games / Public-private entity eyed that could stay after 2020

The Yomiuri Shimbun

The Yomiuri ShimbunThe national government, Tokyo metropolitan government and the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee are planning to create a single body to manage traffic and set detour routes during the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, sources said.

The objectives of the provisionally named “transport center” is to prevent major traffic jams and minimize negative impacts on people’s lives and economic activities by reducing the inflow of vehicles to areas around event venues.

After the Olympics, the center’s functions may be applied to disaster planning, the sources said.

A transport liaison committee for the Tokyo Games is scheduled to hear a report on Friday from related ministries and agencies, the metropolitan government, related municipalities, private businesses and others.

The transport center would be responsible for predicting traffic levels when roads are temporarily closed for events, and then publicizing information on detours and increasing train and bus services.

Predictions for public

Since traffic levels can vary depending on the time of the day, day of the week, weather and other factors, the center would begin simulations based on multiple conditions in fiscal 2017 or later.

Traffic jam predictions would be publicized in advance, and transport companies and the public would be asked to avoid using roads in those areas.

The center would also be responsible for quickly recognizing changes to congested situations that occur during the Games, and then asking people to use appropriate detours, trains or buses.

The transport center is envisioned as a public-private organization staffed by 200 people from the Metropolitan Police Department, the Tokyo metropolitan government, private train and bus companies in the Tokyo area and other entities.

The current plan is for the center to have three departments: one to manage urban traffic demand, which would predict traffic levels and conduct public relations; one to manage transport during the Games, which would handle transportation for athletes and others; and one to manage infrastructure, which would coordinate road administration, operations of railways and others.

The center would operate 24 hours a day before, during and after the Olympics.

The departments are to be launched in succession starting in fiscal 2017, with the center to be fully operational in fiscal 2018, the sources said.

Part of disaster response

The 2020 Games will run for about one month and involve closures of main roads for several hours at a time for multiple events, such as the marathon and triathlon.

The impacts on people’s lives and the distribution of goods are expected to be much greater than with previous major events.

In past Olympics, governments have set aside specific lanes on expressways and regular roads for exclusive Olympic use. This time, the aim is to keep these lanes to a minimum to limit the effects on distribution and compensation paid to expressway companies.

The government anticipates that if a major earthquake or other disaster were to occur, it would need a means to regulate traffic and provide guidance over a large area.

If the transport center functions well during the Olympics, it may be maintained after the Games.Speech

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