National

Large-scale test to cut passenger, vehicle congestion during 2020 Games to be carried out from next week

JIJI, Kyodo

A large-scale trial to relieve the traffic congestion expected during the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games will kick off next Monday, about a year before the quadrennial sporting events begin.

The test will involve staggered commuting and teleworking by central and Tokyo Metropolitan Government personnel, with private companies being asked to join in as well. In addition, traffic controls will be introduced on several roads, including the Metropolitan Expressway network.

Authorities will review the test results to consider whether additional measures will be needed, officials said.

More than 50,000 employees working for Fujitsu Ltd. companies and 34,000 workers at NEC Corp. will take part in the telework trial program being promoted by the government and the organizing committee of the Tokyo Games.

The two companies are among 3,000 entities involving 600,000 people nationwide expected to join the program to be conducted between July 22 and Sept. 6, roughly a year before the Olympics start on July 24 next year. The number of participants taking part this year nearly doubled from the 1,682 entities and 300,000 people involved in the program last year.

Toyota Motor Corp. plans to let 1,600 of its Tokyo-based employees work from home during the Olympics to help ease the situation on roads and on trains, while office equipment maker Ricoh Co. will close its Tokyo headquarters office while the Olympic Games are being held so that 2,000 of its staffers working there do not have to commute to work.

About 8 million people commute in the Tokyo metropolitan area each day, and the events are expected to draw an additional 650,000 spectators and tourists to the area on peak days between July 24 and Aug. 9, followed by the Paralympics from Aug. 25 to Sept. 6., according to an estimate by Azuma Taguchi, a professor of science and engineering at Chuo University.

During the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, arrivals of athletes and other people related to the events as well as spectators are expected to cause heavy congestion in the Tokyo metropolitan area.

Twice as much traffic is expected on the Metropolitan Expressway while the event is on, creating a challenge for authorities to support the smooth transportation of people related to the Olympics and Paralympics without undermining normal economic activity.

The Tokyo Games organizing committee aims to reduce traffic during the events by 10 percent on local roads and up to 30 percent on expressways.

In the coming trial, the metropolitan government will designate 20 weekdays between July 22 and Aug. 2 and Aug. 19 to Aug. 30 as an intensive period, during which about 10,000 workers at the head office will not show up at the office or will use staggered working hours.

Also, in a bid to reduce congestion on trains and buses, metropolitan government personnel heading to their offices will not use these forms of transport between 8-10 a.m.

On July 24, one year before the opening of the Olympics, as well as three Fridays when large volumes of traffic are expected — July 26, Aug. 2 and Aug. 23 — about 2,800 personnel will be involved in teleworking. With other workers taking leave, the number of workers who go to the office on those four days will be reduced to about one-third of the usual number.

In the central government, 10 percent of its staff will be teleworking between July 22 and Aug. 2.

On expressways, including the Metropolitan Expressway, four interchanges, including ones near the athlete’s village, will be closed on July 24 and 26. At some locations, the number of usable lanes will be reduced.

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