Mayor Sadiq Khan has announced a multi-million pound package of measures aimed at reversing the decline in bus passenger numbers.
While use of the Tube, DLR and Overground has increased in recent years, ridership on the capital’s bus network has fallen, partly due to increased congestion which adversely impacts on journey times.
To reverse this fall, Mr Khan has pledged to spend £20m per year on bus priority measures as well as to review traffic signal timings at 1,200 junctions to improve bus speeds.
In addition, Transport for London will seek to better match demand and supply by reducing under-used services in central London and reallocating them to areas with higher demand.
The measures announced today are contained in the TfL budget for the coming year and follow the introduction of the Mayor’s ‘Hopper’ bus ticket which allows passengers to switch buses at no extra cost within an hour of starting their journey.
More than 50 million journeys have been made using the Hopper and transport bosses say the new ticket, which was one of the Mayor’s key manifesto pledges, is already beginning to change how passengers use the network.
However journey numbers for the year are still expected to decline by an average of 2.3 per cent, particularly in central London where journey times have seen the biggest increases, and the loss of passengers means bus revenue will be less than originally forecast.
TfL and City Hall claim that the fall is “largely, though not entirely, offset by higher overall cost savings across TfL’s operations” and add that overall fares revenue across all transport modes is up while commercial income will be £79m higher than expected.
Mr Khan said: “Encouraging Londoners to use our world-renowned bus network is a crucial part of our work to tackle congestion, clean up our air and improve our city for everyone.
“We’ve already started tackling congestion, made bus travel more affordable thanks to the Hopper fare, and made sure we have an efficient green fleet in order to make bus travel faster and easier for all Londoners.
“TfL will be making a whole series of improvements to our transport network over the next year as they continue to successfully deliver major efficiency savings and keep TfL fares frozen for passengers.”
Other measures contained in the budget include investing an extra £154m in cycling and walking, 650 new station staff for the Tube, and ordering new Northern and Jubilee lines.
Mike Brown, London’s Transport Commissioner, said: “Transport is not an end in itself. It is a means of enabling a healthier, more inclusive city with new jobs and homes.
“Our draft budget for 2017/18 sets out how we will deliver the Mayor’s ambitious plans for a modern, efficient and affordable transport network.
“Londoners will see a wide range of improvements to their service over the next financial year, including more staff to assist them on the Tube, newly modernised stations completed at Victoria, Bond Street and Tottenham Court Road, better and safer cycling infrastructure and road junctions, and new Elizabeth line trains coming into service.”