Big Events: Planning, Mobility Management

Big Events: Planning, Mobility Management


F Potier, INRETS, FR; P Bovy, C Liaudat, EPFL, CH



More and more frequent mega events, large events of all kinds ? whether cultural, traditional, sporting, commercial, or political - generate high concentrations of traffic flows of both people and goods, and over significant space and time. They also result in specific problems of transport logistics and mobility management, notably relating to:

* spatial convergence towards one or more sites where the event/s is/are taking place, and which causes very dense traffic flows of spectators, VIPs/special guests, participants/players and all the staff and goods transport involved in such events;
* intensive traffic flows at certain periods generating automobile, public transport and pedestrian traffic peaks in the vicinity of the large events and/or competition sites;
* the superposition of these ?exceptional? traffic flows on what are often already very intense ?daily? peak traffic periods in both metropolitan/urban areas, as well as in popular coastal or mountain resort areas;
* a high share of unusual/non-daily travel patterns that create the need for adequate information and communications systems, multilingual signage, and transport ticketing and accreditation systems that are adapted to the specific needs of visitors at these mega events.

Close partnership between all stakeholders involved in such events is critical ? from the public authorities and utilities to public and private sector transport operators ? in order to ensure that the event?s organisation is efficient and well-adapted to the needs of the specific event.

These short-lived large events tend have well-defined programmes drawn up by international or national bodies acting as ?owners? (franchisors) of the specific events and delegating the actual organisation to an ad hoc local or regional committee (as franchisee). This is often part of a process involving a review of bids from different candidate countries, regions and/or cities.

Large events create unprecedented and ?unusual? problems regarding forecasts of actual attendance and, therefore, traffic flows since they affected by different tourist behaviour patterns influenced by exogenous variables such as the weather and media publicity, or lack of it. Visitor attendance and flows are inevitably more difficult to forecast than those related to daily mobility, particularly in the case of ?open? events ? ie events that do not require advance booking (such as processions, marathons, ski races, festivals, fairs, etc).

From the point of view of transport and access, large events are generally organised by making the best use of available infrastructure and transport. Since these are already very much in demand in normal circumstances, it is often quite common for new transport and infrastructure development programmes to be undertaken ? or accelerated ? so they are completed well before the start of the event. In addition, specific measures regarding transport for the event, to ensure efficient management of multimodal traffic flows, respect the needs of the local resident population and businesses in the vicinity, whose free movement may be impacted by the event.

By disrupting traditional patterns and habits, these events often lead to innovative transport systems and mobility management programmes. Since they encourage new concepts of mobility, these events are ?real-life test cases? for mobility management, which sometimes continue to a greater or lesser degree beyond the actual event.

From the point of view of global transport strategy, large events require increasingly greater use of public transport for visitors, VIPs/special guests, volunteers and the numerous other people involved in all aspects of the organisation of large events. At the same time, road access and car parking in the vicinity of large events are generally not adequate to meet total traffic demand, and they usually have to be strictly controlled, with individual access limited to authorised staff and vehicles only.

In some cases, as with the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, it is possible to ensure that 100% of visitor movement will be catered for by public transport. In the case of Sydney, this was a remarkable achievement from the point of view of the efficiency and conviviality of passenger transfers, especially given the normally predominant role of the private motor car ? the choice of transport for 85% of local travel.

Whether recurrent or one-off events, large events have a major impact on the local regional and even national economy. They put the respective city or region on the world map. They represent an additional trump card for the development of activities and services. They play a growing role in policies of development, land-use planning, and mobility for leisure activities and tourism. Since they are obliged to respect certain environmental and other criteria, and since this gives them an educational role in this area, large events actually contribute to furthering sustainable development.

Given the wide variety of large events, a typology of events has been developed based on most discriminating parameters and variables such as scale, image, uniqueness, main themes, periodicity, duration, the lifetime value of the equipment used for the event, spatial organisation on one or more sites, type of locality (urban, peri-urban, rural ), pre-determined or estimated visitor capacity, and the main logistical constraints ? notably security, which is increasingly important for obvious reasons.

These subjects have been dealt with in the research ?Mega events : planning, mobility management and their impacts? in the frame of PREDIT (France) with a global perspective, citing numerous examples and case studies. This paper will cover

* the typological structure of the big events comprising the multiple parameters and discriminating variables;
* main functional and organisational interactions of these large events from their launch to their total or partial dismantling;
* the organisation of preliminary tests and the essential role of integrated follow-up ?command - control ? communication? by the event?s management ;
* concrete recommendations in the form of guidelines to help and assist with the organisation of large or very large events of all types.

About 20 different case studies of events of all sizes in France, Switzerland and other parts of the world (folkloric events, fairs, exhibitions, national or world championships, world fairs and the Olympic Games) gives a comprehensive picture of the various problems and solutions, structures and trends in this fast-growing sector.


Association for European Transport