Mayor Sadiq Khan and Transport for London have been urged to rethink how they incentivise bus operators as part of their efforts to make London’s roads safer.
In 2015 and 2016, 25 people were killed on, or by, buses with more than two thirds of those killed being pedestrians. In the same period nearly 12,000 people were injured on-board or in incidents with buses.
In recent years TfL has been working to reduce the number of collisions and accidents involving buses and has trialled a number of new technologies as well as routinely publishing incident figures in a bid to increase transparency.
However a new report published today by the London Assembly’s transport committee says the agency could go further.
Bus operators are currently rewarded for meeting service punctuality and reliability targets but AMs say an operator’s safety record should also form part of the incentives package.
They also warn that working conditions, including “long shifts, inadequate breaks and irregular shift patterns” could be a contributing factor in some incidents.
As well as overhauling the incentives framework for contractors, today’s report says senior TfL managers should also have network performance taken into account when their bonus awards are decided.
Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM, Deputy Chair of the committee said: “Bus drivers exist in a pressure cooker situation, with competition for road space and a focus on making buses run on time, which has created a stressful and tiring working culture for drivers.
“TfL needs to review the way it awards contracts to bus operators and ensure it puts safety as a priority, instead of punctuality.”
Responding to the report Leon Daniels, TfL’s Managing Director of Surface Transport, said: “We welcome the highly constructive ideas in this report, and will take every action we can to bring about further rapid improvements in bus safety. Our Bus Safety Programme is one element in a completely new approach to reducing the unacceptably high number of people killed or hurt on the bus network.
“Action includes better driver training, new technology to limit bus speeds, redesign of buses themselves and proactive analysis of data – made openly available publicly – to understand trends and target intervention.
“This focus will take us towards delivering the Mayor’s ‘Vision Zero’ approach, which aims for no one to be killed in or by a London bus by 2030 or sooner, and for all deaths and serious injuries from road collisions to be eliminated by 2041.
“Working in partnership with the London Assembly, London’s boroughs, road and bus safety campaigners and many others, we will harness advances in technology and new thinking to make this a reality.”