London Mayor Boris Johnson has outlined his vision for the capital’s transport network and called for a “fair approach to all road users” while also promising “continued investment in policing, security, and CCTV to make the transport network safer”.
In a personal paper entitled ‘Way to Go’ the Mayor warns that the capital continues to face huge transport challenges despite past successes including increases in the numbers of cyclists and the expansion of the bus network.
The Mayor has promised improvements to “packed trains, clogged streets, and roads where cyclists take their lives into their own hands.”
Acknowledging the way in which bad travelling experiences can impact on a person’s day the Mayor commented: “If you start the day crammed in to a Tube carriage with a stranger’s armpit in your face, chances are it is going to get you off to a bad start. If you have to squeeze your way onto your evening bus through a crowd of swearing, fighting children, chances are you will take that stress into your evening.”
“I want to improve Londoners’ quality of life and we will be investing billions in achieving this through better transport – boosting capacity on the Tube network by 30 per cent, delivering Crossrail, which will revolutionise the way we get across the city, and in a host of other measures to improve the experience of navigating the capital.
Johnson has committed himself to “pressing on” with major infrastructure projects such as Crossrail and improvements to the Tube plus the continued development of the London Overground network.
The Mayor’s recently announced policy of allowing motorbikes into bus lanes and clamping down on companies who cause disruption with road works are expected to ‘smooth’ traffic flow on the capital’s roads.
There was dismissal of the Mayor’s vision from some members of the London Assembly. Labour’s AM dismissed Johnson’s comments as “utter drivel” and Lambeth and Southwark Assembly Member Val Shawcross said today’s document was “a huge disappointment for London’s travelling public. In his six months as Mayor this drivel is all Boris has managed to come up with.”
Shawcross added: “He seems to have no view on which areas of London are currently lacking in good, fast transport links and there is no attempt to indicate where he feels public transport passengers are particularly disadvantaged. There is no linkage in this document to any plans for an economic or housing growth plan for London. Creating the links between people’s homes and jobs should be fundamental to any transport strategy.”
Green Party AM Jenny Jones branded the document “good journalism, but poor policy making”, adding: “ I welcome the fact that he has pledged to continue with a set of transport projects which where already in place before he was elected mayor, but there are no big innovations which will benefit London’s environment, or make it a more affordable city. Schemes like the cycle corridors, the Velib style bike hire and hybrid buses, were already in the pipeline.”
“It is the gaps in the new transport document which are most telling. There is no mention of the increased pollution that could be created by the abolition of the mid year inspections for taxis, or by the increased number of buses if the mayor goes ahead with the replacing bendy buses. There is no mention of the mayor having scrapped probably the biggest hydrogen vehicle purchase in Europe. He has also scrapped the £25 charge for gas guzzlers, whilst announcing above inflation fare rises. Whatever the mayor claims, it is clear that public transport passengers will be paying more, whilst drivers will pay less.”
Johnson’s proposals received a warmer welcome from the Liberal Democrats. Transport spokesperson Caroline Pidgeon said her party “absolutely support the Mayor’s war on chaotic street works, his wish to rid our streets of the clutter of signs and railings, and his enthusiasm for bikes. We look forward to real action on the bike hire scheme which we proposed back in 2001.”
However Pidgeon added: “I find it very odd indeed that a Tory Mayor moans that there is no government funding to deliver these projects instead of looking for private sector funding or enterprising business groups who believe they can make a profitable business out of them.”
Commenting today the Chair of London TravelWatch, the capital’s passenger Watchdog, said her organisation has “considerable reservations about some of the Mayor’s proposals, in particular the move towards new Routemaster open platform buses and the value for money aspects of removing bendy buses on high frequency routes.”
However Sharon Grant, who was appointed last month, said the body endorsed the “principles in this document” which she said were “ broadly in line with the needs of transport users in London.”