Transport for London and Westminster Council should assess the possibility of re-routing buses serving London’s West End to reduce the number that travel through the area according to a new report published today by the London Assembly.
‘Streets ahead: Relieving congestion on Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street’, which is available to download from the London Assembly website, says more than 300 buses serve Oxford Street every hour and over 100,000 pedestrians pass along the busiest point on Oxford Street every day.
The report finds the shared use of the West End has “created some significant problems” with “average bus speeds are little more than walking speed”.
Victoria Borwick AM, who led the investigation on behalf of the Transport Committee, said:
“The wall of slow-moving metal running along Oxford Street tarnishes what should be a world-class shopping experience – delaying and endangering residents, workers and visitors.”
Borwick acknowledged the competing demands for access to the area created “a complex situation” but added: “we are talking about a vital retail destination that generates £5.5billion a year for the UK economy. There has to be a better way to strike the balance between the needs of shoppers and pedestrians and the demand for transport links.”
The report urges Mayor of London Boris Johnson to work with the Government, TfL, local authorities and other stakeholders to improve the air quality and reduce traffic congestion in the area through a 20 per cent reduction in the number of buses serving the area.
Passenger watchdog London TravelWatch has expressed concern over the report’s call to re-route buses. Chair Sharon Grant described the proposal as “seemingly arbitrarily” and said buses were “efficient users of road space”
Grant said the capital’s transport chiefs “could improve efficiency of road space in this area by prioritising pedestrians and closing off more of the north and south side roads crossing Oxford Street, reducing the number of buses terminating in Oxford Street, and by restricting taxis. According to TfL, taxis take up 37% of the road space, but only carry 1% of the passengers. Oxford Street is busy because that is where people want to go.”