Public transport ran for two extra hours until 2.30 in the morning. Transport for London reported that the Olympic Park was clear before that time, despite the opening ceremony overrunning with Paul McCartney's last act ending at about 12.45am.
Friday night's numbers will not be the biggest challenge of the Games, with many more spectators to come once all the venues are in operation, but it was the first real test of the network.
An additional issue was to get the VIPs, including many world leaders, back to central London and dispersed by road before workers could start blocking off the streets for Saturday's big event, the men's cycle road race. TfL planned to start putting up barriers and diversion signs for the route across London from 3am, with the race starting in the Mall at 10am and passing through south-west London into Surrey.
Events were also taking place on Saturday at the Olympic Park and other London venues including Greenwich, Wimbledon and Wembley.
Staff at the nerve centre of London's transport, an integrated control centre south of the Thames, were jubilant at Friday's performance. Leon Daniels, head of surface transport at TfL, said: "All those months and years thinking about the perfect storm of royalty, VIPs, the concert at Hyde Park – last night we breezed it."
Warnings to the public to avoid central London paid off, with the streets noticeably quieter – 15% fewer vehicles on the road, according to official estimates. Daniels and his team were in early on Saturday to monitor the disruption caused by the cycling. "Last year we set up for a road race and crowds were building at 6.30am. Today we were in here watching on 16 screens and there was nothing, just a man walking his dog in Putney."
At the co-ordinated centre created for the Olympics, a sprawling desk brings together the computer systems and staff of the capital's various rail and tube networks with Locog and security services, TfL staff who monitor London's roads, bus operators and police. The new set-up means there is face-to-face comunication between 100 people from 17 agencies who rarely talked directly before, making a joined-up response to problems that much easier.
TfL staff cautioned against thinking the job was done. Mark Evers, director of Games transport, warned that the opening ceremony was "one of our easier challenges", with fewer spectators taking public transport and only one event in play. "Every day is different. It's one day. It's set the tone. But next week will be phenomenally busy," Evers said.
Monday would be a bigger test, he said, as the first working day with a full programme of Olympic events. Later in the week athletics events start at the main stadium. Evers said: "The 100,000 people at the park today are at staggered sessions. But from next Friday there will be another 80,000 all likely to leave at the same time." TfL anticipates 3m extra journeys daily by the end of the week, 25% more than the capital's usual peak.
A protest by taxi drivers in central London at 2pm on Friday was the closest the capital came to any gridlock, with traffic tailing back from Hyde Park corner for an hour. The Games Lanes, the focus of the cab drivers' anger, have so far been relatively clear. That may change as Olympic traffic grows.
Last week disruption on many tube lines, including the key central line's failure during a dress rehearsal for the opening ceremony, had raised fears for the system, although transport chiefs claimed London's transport was resilient and would cope.
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