Boris Johnson was at London Underground headquarters in Central London this morning to unveil a new ten year plan for investment in the capital’s transport network.
The Mayor was joined by Transport Commissioner Peter Hendy as he set out how he would increase capacity and deal with “massive” investment over the next decade.
The Mayor told journalists that his budget would require £2.4bn of efficiency savings to made and confirmed that some jobs would be lost and that there would be reductions in “back office” expenditure.
Mr Johnson said there would be savings from ending design and consultation work on projects such as the Cross River Tram and Croydon Tramlink Extension and stressed he was not scrapping the projects, just being frank with Londoners in explaining that there is not, and never was, funding to realise them.
Johnson accused predecessor Ken Livingstone of misleading the public with “hollow promises” about the viability of such projects and said it was important “to focus on the projects that deliver real benefits for Londoners.”
Labour’s John Biggs has accused Johnson of presiding over a “bonfire of transport projects”. Biggs said the “axing” of the Thames Gateway Bridge “is a betrayal of East London and a stab in the back for East London residents whose transport needs far out-weigh the minority opposition to the Bridge.”
However there was support for the Mayor’s decision from Green Party AM Darren Johnson who described it as “good news for the environment and for the local people who have spent years fighting this proposal.”
The Liberal Democrat’s Caroline Pidgeon has called on Mayor Johnon to seek private funding for the projects, asking: “How can a Tory Mayor moan that there is no public sector funding to deliver these projects. He should instead be looking for private sector funding or support from enterprising business groups. Where is the Mayor’s innovation and creative thinking that we were promised?”
The Mayor vowed to increase overall capacity on the bus network but promised a “major review” of it citing public concern at the number of empty buses on the streets.
There was also a commitment to increase capacity on the DLR and a re-statement of his promises to re-phase traffic lights and crack down on road works to improve traffic flow.
Questioned on finding himself scrapping projects he’d previously championed under Mayor Livingstone Hendy told reporters that his job was always to deliver the policies of the serving Mayor.
Hendy said the identified savings would be used “to deliver key projects such as improving the Tube, expanding London Overground and enabling the construction of Crossrail.”
Asked whether the business plan allowed for the potential loss of revenue from the scrapping of the Congestion Charge Western Extension Johnson and Hendy said the GLA budget process meant TfL had to deliver their budget within the next few days and so it was not possible to delay until the outcome of the Congestion Charge consultation process was known.
Although welcoming the Mayor’s commitment to the Underground upgrades and Crossrail, Sharon Grant, Chair of London TravelWatch, said her body “are concerned that the many of the other schemes that have been cancelled or postponed are in transport-poor parts of outer London with high levels of social exclusion.”
Former Mayor Ken Livingstone has also joined the criticism of Johnson’s plans. In a statement to journalists Mr Livingstone said: “Londoners need to understand that with this announcement virtually all of London’s transport infrastructure investment and planning apart from Crossrail and the Tube upgrades are being aborted. It is a stunning blow to outer London which stood to benefit from many of these new links, such as in Dagenham and Croydon. Today’s announcement is like pouring weed-killer on green shoots.