Transport bosses have been urged to investigate whether sponsorship could be use to subsidise a new Christmas Day bus service.
Caroline Pidgeon, a member of the London Assembly and the Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor, made the call after research revealed that almost 1.5 million Londoners and visitors to the city would consider using such a service.
Unlike New York, Paris and Barcelona which run buses on Christmas Day, London’s bus network stops down at midnight on Christmas Eve with services starting again on Boxing Day.
The shutdown means many people are unable to visit family and friends to celebrate the festive season and makes it more difficult and expensive for people working on Christmas Day to get to work who must instead drive or use a cab.
Transport for London has previously rejected calls to run buses on Christmas Day and in November 2008 Mayor Boris Johnson claimed demand “would be low and distributed very thinly across London” making it “unlikely that the cost of providing a limited service would be justified.”
However a briefing paper due to be presented to TfL’s Surface Transport Panel next week shows that more than 1.3m people say they would use a buse if they operated on December 25th.
According to the paper more than 60% of these would use the bus to visit family or friends and around 5% would take the bus to work.
The document also notes that the financial benefits needed to set up such a service “fall short” of the agency’s normal investment criteria but suggests “wider benefits of providing a service on Christmas Day may however exist.”
No plans exist to run buses this year and the document says further work would be needed to fully understand the costs and benefits of involved.
Ms Pidgeon says part of that work should include “examining whether there are sponsorship opportunities for such a service”.
She added: “For many years TfL has peddled the claim that there is little demand for bus services on Christmas Day so it is welcome that they finally recognise the potential demand of as many as 1.3 million passengers for a full Sunday service operated on Christmas Day.”
“It is long overdue that London caught up with the many other cities around the world, such as New York, Paris and Barcelona which run a bus service on Christmas Day.”