Transport for London says bus operators will be required to reduce the number of accidents, collisions and injuries involving their drivers and vehicles in return for being awarded future contracts.
Although fares and routes are set by TfL, services are operated by private companies who compete with one another through the agency’s tender process.
TfL, which has long been under pressure to cut the number of accidents involving buses, today set out a “world-leading programme” aimed at making London’s streets safer.
Over the next few months the agency will update its contracts with operators to include new safety incentives and will work with operators to deliver a new safety training module to all 24,700 bus drivers.
Work is also underway with bus manufacturers to assess and develop safety technologies such as Automatic Emergency Braking systems to be included as standard in all new buses entering service from September 2017.
Other potential design improvements include changes to wing mirror design and windscreen glazing to reduce the impact of any collision.
TfL has also promised to create a dedicated support service within its Customer Services team which will offer emotional and practical support to those involved in, or affected by, a bus collision.
In addition the agency says it’ll increase the amount of bus safety data it publishes and ensure the data is more accessible so that campaigners and commentators can measure performance.
Mayor of London, Boris Johnson MP, said: “I’m proud that we have one of the safest bus networks in the world, but I’m determined to see it get even better.
“By creating this world-leading programme we will be placing an even greater focus on safety, making the most of the latest technology and bold initiatives to help keep passengers and vulnerable road users safe.
“Through this we will be able to make real progress towards my target of significantly reducing the number of people killed and seriously injured on our roads.”
Leon Daniels, TfL’s Managing Director of Surface Transport, said: “The Capital’s bus network is very safe and we are determined to take action to make it even safer.
“The Bus Safety Programme will examine a range of improvements, from vehicle design to bus driver training, from giving more information to the public to provision of support to those affected by serious bus incidents.
“We will also provide more information about bus safety and the outcomes of investigations into the most serious incidents.”
Today’s announcement has been welcomed by London Assembly member Darren Johnson, who said: “I am delighted that following years of pressure from myself and campaigners the Mayor has now agreed new measures to make London buses safer.
“It was good news when the Mayor told me he planned to roll out confidential whistleblowing software on all buses and I’m equally pleased that Transport for London will now include safety incentives in bus contracts.
“That must mean an explicit focus on reducing the number of people killed or seriously injured by London buses.”