Tory Mayoral Candidate Boris Johnson unveiled his transport manifesto today and was immediately attacked by rivals who claimed he lacked sufficient knowledge of the issues.
Vowing to “put the commuter first” Mr Johnson said he would launch a new consultation on the westward extension of the Congestion Charge and would re-instate tidal flow in the Blackwall tunnel.
There was also a promise to re-examine ways to introduce air conditioning on the tube network and to keep it open one hour later on Friday and Saturdays, a new monthly billing scheme for the congestion charge and a promise to spend money on an 50 extra British Transport Police officers.
Mr Johnson also promised to “vigorously oppose the Government’s plans to increase the Dartford crossing toll” and said “unlike the current Labour Mayor, work with the local councils who fund it to make it operational 24-hours a day.”
However the statement will again raise questions over Johnson’s grasp of London issues as Mr Livingstone vowed in January to extend the scheme within 12 months if re-elected.
Many of the initiatives in today’s document have previously been announced including support for cycling, the introduction of bus conductors, abolishing the bendy bus, opposition to the £25 a day congestion charge for cars in high CO2 emission bands and a trial of an orbital bus service covering outer London.
A spokesman for Ken Livingstone claimed Mr Johnson’s promise to design and build a new bus and introduce conductors “would mean a huge 15% minimum increase in bus fares for Londoners. A single bus fare on Oyster would have to go up from 90p to a minimum of £1.05 and a weekly bus pass from £13 to £15.”
Mr Johnson also promised action in areas where the Mayor has little or no power such as “cracking down on utility companies who dig up the roads” a promise h could only delver on if he was able to gain powers from the Westminster Parliament.
LibDem rival Brian Paddick said the “promise to improve trains and the policing of stations shows he has no idea what the Mayor has control over. The British Transport Police and the railways are beyond the Mayor’s remit. Boris Johnson’s pledge today is little more than an empty promise from a clueless candidate.”
Sian Berry who is running as the Green Party Mayoral candidate said “Johnson has shown that, as someone who doesn’t use public transport, he doesn’t know much about the real concerns of people who do.”
“His announcements so far have been completely contradictory. He says he wants to speed up buses and improve safety and confidence for cyclists, but then proposes filling up bus lanes with motorbikes.”
Last week Mr Johnson’s campaign were forced to withdraw a press note implying support for the manifesto from London TravelWatch Chair Brian Cooke.
After enquiries by MayorWatch a revised note was distributed confirming Mr Cooke would appear only to further the cause of Londoners. In the end Mr Cooke withdraw from the event.