Mayor’s Question Time, May 2010 – Part Five: And The Rest


(Editor’s note: selected questions and answers only, and some have been edited for brevity. If any notable questions are missing let me know via the comments and I’ll update.)

In this post: Mayoral achievements. TfL sponsorship, redundancy payments, CCTV, calls and datasets. The RMT. Transport policing and revenue inspectors. Nationalisation. Diversity programmes. The Olympics. Thames Gateway Bridge. The ash cloud, Heathrow and the Thames Estuary Airport. Transport in Bexley. Woolwich Ferry and the Thames Clipper. Metro recycling. Dial-a-Ride.

Can you list the railway/DLR/Tram extensions or road improvements initiated under your administration rather than inherited from your predecessor? — John Biggs

Major transport improvements inherently take a number of years to develop, design and implement. Consequently, there are several ongoing projects that were initiated by my predecessor. However, there have been a number of improvements that I have announced over the last two years, including the securing of £75 million in funding for phase 2 of the London Overground East London line, as well as an investment of £31 million to improve the Tramlink network, which will deliver renewed trams and tram stops, as well as improved reliability and increased capacity on the network.

The Tube upgrades are being delivered, and work has finally started on Crossrail, which will bring a much-needed boost in transport capacity. Major strides have been made in smoothing traffic flow through the new roadworks permitting scheme, and reviewing and re-phasing traffic lights. I am also steadfast to delivering a new workable river crossing in south-east London.

I am committed to delivering a cycling revolution in London over the next few years. I have invested a record £111 million in a number of initiatives, including a Cycle Hire Scheme and Cycle Superhighways, the first two of which will be launched this summer. Other improvements include additional cycle parking, training, education and events such as the Mayor of London’s Skyrides.

I was elected by Londoners to deliver on a range of issues – to make public transport safer and more secure, to get rid of the bendy buses, to bring in a new green bus for London, and most importantly, ensure that we deliver value for money for Londoners. Over the past two years, this has meant delivering in a host of new areas, which includes, but also goes well beyond, railway and road improvements.

Did TfL benefit from any private sponsorship and how much is it worth? — Richard Tracey

TfL sponsorship income for 2009/10 was as follows:

London Underground:

  • Sponsorship of Busking Scheme 
(December 2009/January 2010) — £44,215
  • Sponsorship of Free Travel on New Year’s Eve 
(December 2009/January 2010) — £72,000
  • Sponsorship of Journey Planner Maps, Pocket Tube Maps and some maps available from (April 2009 to March 2010) — £550,400

London Overground:

  • Stakeholder event to promote the opening of the East London Line (11 March 2010)— £2,500
  • Sponsorship on (April 2009 to March 2010) — £64,000

London Transport Museum:

  • Corporate sponsorship (April 2009 to March 2010) — £343,606
  • Corporate membership (April 2009 to March 2010) — £431,633

[C]ould you separate out the payouts made by the following pay bandings: (a) under £20,000; (b) £20,001 to £30,000; (c) £30,001 to £40,000; (d) £40,001 to £50,000; (e) £50,001 to £60,000; (f) £60,001 to £70,000; (g) £70,001 to £80,000; (h) £80,001 to £90,000; (i) £90,001 to £100,000; and (j) over £100,001? — Caroline Pidgeon

TfL is committed to minimising employee redundancies, and this is achieved through consultation and consideration of ways to mitigate them, through natural wastage, restricting recruitment, offering other employment locally, or retraining etc. Consideration of employment across the organisation is made before a payment is made to an employee, and employees must also have at least two years of continuous service to receive a payment. If the employee unreasonably refuses an alternative position, they may lose entitlement to a payment. After satisfying these criteria, the following payments were made in 2008/2009 and 2009/2010:

(Figures relate to payments in 2008/2009 and 2009/2010.)

  • (a) Under £20,000 — 63 and 76
  • (b) £20,001 to £30,000 — 40 and 21
  • (c) £30,001 to £40,000 — 11 and 19
  • (d) £40,001 to £50,000 — 5 and 18
  • (e) £50,001 to £60,000 — 10 and 9
  • (f) £60,001 to £70,000 — 4 and 7
  • (g) £70,001 to £80,000 — 3 and 12
  • (h) £80,001 to £90,000 — 0 and 3
  • (i) £90,001 to £100,000 — 1 and 3
  • (j) over £100,001 — 3 and 10

It must be remembered that this has been a period of restructuring across TfL to deliver a leaner, fitter and more focused organisation that provides better value for the taxpayer, and these figures reflect this.

Would you consider changing the operation of [TfL CCTV cameras that often do not record footage] so that footage can always be reviewed? — Jenny Jones

TfL uses a network of around 1,000 cameras for enforcement activity on the Transport for London Road Network. TfL does not record continuous footage for a number of reasons. These include the strict regulations that are in place with regard to how a camera should be operated for enforcement purposes, significant data protection and privacy considerations, IT system capabilities and the cost involved in storing and managing such footage. Therefore, while I recognise the concerns of your constituent, there is no prospect of TfL recording and sharing continuous footage from their CCTV cameras.

Why TFL have been allowed to change their travel information telephone number from an 0207 number which can be called from mobiles within the calling allowance to an 0843 number which is charged at a high rate per minute from mobiles? Why have you approved this change? Clearly this charge will benefit the mobile ‘phone companies, but what benefit does it give to TfL or to passengers? — Murad Qureshi

TfL has changed its travel information number to 0843 222 1234 in order to meet the growth in demand in a cost effective manner and, at the same time, improve customer service. The travel information number already handles 3.4m travel enquiries per year. The 0843 number gives customers the opportunity to use a voice-activated service to plan their journey, though they do always have the option of speaking to a customer service advisor if that is their preference. Unlike the previous service, no one calling the 0843 number should get an ‘engaged’ tone, meaning TfL can provide a better service at times of high demand, such as during serious disruption caused by adverse weather.

Mobile phone companies set their own tariffs which are subject to regulation by Ofcom. TfL does provide a wide range of travel information to customers at no charge, including the on-line TfL Journey Planner, posters and leaflets at stations, announcements by staff and through the media via the syndication of real-time travel information to broadcasters and others.

Why has Transport for London not released any of the popular datasets requested by hundreds of Londoners into the London Datastore yet? — Darren Johnson

Sixteen major TfL datasets are already available and it is envisaged that several more will be provided shortly along with a change to TfL’s current licensing conditions. TfL is working collaboratively with the London Datastore to make data available wherever possible. A range of legal, technical and licensing issues need to be reviewed, but future datasets are being identified and take account of the requests being made by users of the Datastore.

After the recent period of threats of strikes, particularly over health and safety issues and staff cuts at stations by the RMT has the Mayor moved any further forward with his election promise of a ’no strike deal’? — Val Shawcross

The situation remains as I have set out previously. TfL has had discussions with each of the four transport trade unions, and they have clarified their position on such a proposal. It is not something that will easily be achieved, but I remain of the view that it is an objective that remains worth pursuing, at the right time.

In January 2009, you announced that TfL will pay £6m over two years to employ 50 extra BTP Officers. What has, and will, the £6m actually pay for? [and] Have funds been identified to ensure the 50 BTP Officers remain in post after the £6m has run out? — Joanne McCartney

TfL committed to fund an extra 50 British Transport Police (BTP) officers to patrol trains and stations on the National Rail network in outer London, and I am delighted to confirm that these officers are now in place. TfL’s funding is sufficient to allow for the recruitment, training and support of the additional officers.

There are now Neighbourhood Policing Teams of BTP officers based at the key suburban rail hub stations at Croydon, Bromley South, Wimbledon, Stratford, Acton Mainline, Seven Sisters and Finsbury Park. The teams will patrol the routes that radiate outwards, covering over 100 outer London stations altogether. These teams provide a highly visible policing presence to their neighbourhoods, providing reassurance and an increased sense of security to the many Londoners who rely on the suburban rail network.

Funding provision for the continuation of the initiative beyond the two year commitment is included in the current TfL Business Plan. However, as with all TfL budget commitments, this will be reviewed as part of the overall business planning process each year.

How many police officers were working on public transport on 1 May 2008 and 28 September 2008 respectively? — Joanne McCartney

Since 1 May 2008, I have increased the number of uniformed police officers (Police Officers and Police Community Support Officers) working on transport policing initiatives by over 500. To allow for recruitment timescales and other logistical considerations such as accommodation and recruitment, the majority of these officers (440 Hub Team officers and 50 BTP officers) were rolled out progressively between September 2008 and June 2009.

On 1 May 2008 there were 2,480 officers. This had increased to 2,500 by 28 September 2008. The current business plan currently provides for over 2,900 uniformed police officers on London’s transport network.

What investigations, or actions, have been conducted to give increased powers to revenue inspectors as you promised to do in your crime manifesto? — Joanne McCartney

TfL, in conjunction with its Police partners, has looked at the issue of Revenue Protection Inspector (RPI) powers in detail, and constantly keeps the powers granted to RPIs under review. As set out in my response to your previous question 1173/2010, RPIs do have the power to require passengers to provide their name and address under certain circumstances, for example if it is suspected that the passenger has deliberately attempted to avoid paying their fare, and for a passenger to refuse to provide those details is an offence.

On London Underground, a team of Revenue Control Inspectors has recently been awarded additional powers by the British Transport Police under the Accredited Persons Police Reform Act 2002 Schedule 5. This ‘proof of concept’ trial of powers started in March 2010. Informed by the outcome of the trial on London Underground, TfL will explore further the accreditation of RPIs with additional powers by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) Commissioner.

TfL and MPS current policy is to increase intelligence- led joint working between the two agencies which benefits both, combining RPI and police powers in joint patrols and providing an engaging and effective presence to deter anti-social behaviour and tackle fare evasion.

You have recently nationalised Oyster and you are in the process of nationalising Tubelines. What does this say about the confusion of your supposedly free-market administration? — John Biggs

This administration is certainly not confused but is doing what actually works. What did not work were the fatally flawed and disastrous PPP contracts that were forced on London by the previous Labour government. Hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money was wasted and the upgrades delayed and station refurbishments descoped.

Oyster has not been “nationalised”. TfL has secured ownership and control of the Oyster brand and ticketing system. This means that TfL is able to investigate the potential for Oyster to be extended to new and existing technologies and the commercial opportunities that provides. It is another example of this Administration getting the best value for money for London’s tax and farepayers.

How much LDA and TfL funding has been spent on the BAME Taxi Driver Diversity Programme and the Women Bus Driver Diversity Programme? What results have these two programmes produced? — Tony Arbour

The Women Bus Drivers Diversity Programme began delivery in 2007/08 and is due to complete in 2010/11 – the project has a lifetime budget of £1,010,000. The delivery partner is contracted to deliver 630 skills outputs and 530 employment support outputs. At the end of 2009/10, the project has delivered 377 skills outputs and 446 employment support outputs. In 2010/11 the project has targets of 250 skills general and 135 employment support outputs to deliver.

Training is delivered through a 5-6 week training package which includes a 1-2 week work placement at a bus depot. As part of their training the beneficiaries apply for their Passenger Carrying Vehicle (PCV) provisional license and take the PCV theory test. Students also attend a one day Employability course and are offered ongoing support with the completion of applications to bus operators. Although not a contractual target, the project has so far supported 143 women into employment and we anticipate that over 200 women will be supported into work over the project lifetime.

The BAME and Women Taxi Driver project started in 2007 and was due to run for three years until October 2010. It actually completed delivery on the 31st March 2010 with a lifetime expenditure of £1,970,000. The project provided training and support (including childcare) to participants through the accreditation process of the ‘Knowledge’. The project aimed to provide training to 640 people so that 400 Londoners would obtain the Knowledge/Green Badge by 2010.

Due to poor project design, very few participants were able to complete the Knowledge over the project lifetime and the LDA took the decision to terminate the project early. However, the support provided by the project, has enabled several hundred BAME and women participants to start their training who now have the option of continuing their journey towards obtaining the “Knowledge”.

Does Transport for London have any plans to improve station concourse information before the Olympics, to include alternative routes rather than just disruption information, for visitors who are not familiar with London’s transport? — Richard Tracey

There is a commitment between LOCOG, the ODA, TfL and other delivery partners to provide consistent travel information during Games time. Visitors will be very reliant on information provided in advance as those less familiar with the network are more likely to plan their journeys.

The majority of this information will be provided by the ODA, primarily via information that will be sent with event tickets, and a Games specific on-line portal with its own journey planner tool. 
As part of TfL’s commitment, changes to our information provision will need to be made during Games time. The details of how this will be delivered are currently being developed and will be finalised later this year.

Given your conversion to supporting a crossing of the Thames at Galleons Reach, do you owe an apology to the people of East and South-East London for the extra years delay that your cancellation of the previous scheme has caused? — John Biggs

We are working to address the problems at existing crossings as a priority, including a new crossing at Silvertown to provide a more resilient network around the Blackwall area, and working with the Department for Transport to look into reducing congestion at Dartford.

We will continue to safeguard a possible future local crossing at Gallions Reach, to be considered once the measures at Silvertown and Dartford have reduced the threat of strategic traffic using this local link, and in the medium term will consider whether a vehicle ferry at this location could provide a new local link across the Thames downriver of Woolwich which did not attract longer distance traffic.

At Mayor’s Question Time in March, you said you had written to Lord Adonis requesting that the Residents Discount for the Dartford Crossing be extended to residents in my constituency. Did you receive a reply to your letter? — James Cleverly

I wrote to the then Secretary of State for Transport, Ruth Kelly, in May 2008, about the Dartford Crossing discount scheme. However, as promised in March, I will be writing to the new Secretary of State for Transport in due course, requesting that the discount for residents of Thurrock and Dartford is extended to Bexley and Havering.

Have any short or long term environmental effects been observed in London as a result of the volcanic ash cloud? [and] Does the Mayor agree that evidence gathered during the ash cloud crisis confirms that Heathrow expansion would be one of the biggest threats to London’s air quality? — Gareth Bacon

Analysis by the Environmental Research Group at Kings College London shows that although there were elevated concentrations of coarse particulate matter (PM) at some monitoring locations across Greater London, there is no direct evidence to suggest that this was a result of the volcanic ash cloud (although this can not be ruled out completely).

Short-term effects included some deposition observed on parked cars but it is too early to look at long term environment effects in London. The particle sizes associated with the volcanic ash cloud are far larger than those considered to represent a health risk to the public.

I have long been very clear about the huge negative impact of extending the capacity of Heathrow Airport. That is why I opposed the third runway and I am delighted that the new Government agrees with me and announced its decision that the project should not proceed.

Is scaling back flights from Heathrow one of the options which the Government should consider in order to meet the 2010 European limit values for nitrogen dioxide? — Darren Johnson

The initial priority, as set out in my draft Air Quality Strategy, is to encourage BAA to continue implementing measures to reduce emissions from airport operations. These include the use of fixed electrical ground power to reduce the need for auxiliary generators and the introduction of cleaner airside vehicles.

I am also encouraging the Government to work with the aviation industry to encourage the use of lower-emitting aircraft. Finally, I will work with the Government and BAA on measures to promote the use of public and other sustainable transport to gain access to the airport. In addition, I will continue to oppose additional runway capacity at Heathrow Airport and welcome the new Government’s position on no further runways at Heathrow.

How much have you and the GLA family spent studying the feasibility of another London airport in the Thames Estuary? — Murad Qureshi


What impact does the expansion of Southend Airport have on the feasibility of your Thames Estuary Airport dream? [and] Where is there physical space for your proposed Thames Estuary airport in the Estuary? — Murad Qureshi

It has yet to be seen what services will actually be provided at Southend. The plan is, however, for a regional airport serving 2 million passengers pa with 4 flights per hour to European destinations. This would not provide either long haul or 24 hour service. So far Doug Oakervee has have only investigated the feasibility of an estuary airport. More studies will be needed to establish whether it is a necessary reality, particularly in the light of the new government’s decision not to allow new runways at Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted.

Can you please outline the organisations/individuals who have been approached for funding [the Thames Estuary Airport Steering Group]? Who has agreed to give any funding and how much? — Caroline Pidgeon

The Mayor has not approached any bodies for funding. The Thames Estuary Steering Group is an independent body with an independent chair.

There are many potential sites which are under review both in the Inner and Outer Estuary. Can I suggest you visit the Estuary, as I did, to see for yourself?

What have you done for transport in Bexley? — Murad Qureshi

My Transport Strategy sets out a broad framework for the delivery of a wide range of transport improvements across the whole of London, including Bexley. More specifically, the recent extension of the DLR to Woolwich Arsenal and the proposed Crossrail station at Abbey Wood will have positive impacts for Bexley by providing improved rail access to and from Bexley through better interchange with national rail services. TfL is also in the process of developing a sub regional transport plan for east London before the end of the year that will identify more specific transport priorities for this region, which includes Bexley.

In addition, Bexley continues to receive significant investment from TfL to implement the borough’s local transport priorities. Since 2003/2004 Bexley has received £48.3m Local Implementation Plan (LIP) funding from TfL, which has contributed towards key regeneration area schemes in the borough, provided principal road maintenance, improvements to the A206 Thames Road, bridge works, cycle and local safety schemes as well as new 20 mph zones. An important scheme to regenerate Bexleyheath Town Centre, mostly funded by TfL with an investment of £2.5m from the Major Schemes programme over the next 3 years, will see improvement works to the public realm and bus facilities. TfL also funded improvement works to regenerate Sidcup Town Centre with a contribution of £1.5m, which included improvements to the public realm and pedestrian environment, accessibility in the town centre, interchange with buses, and the provision of cycle facilities. This year, Bexley will receive a further LIP allocation of £3.4m.

What plans are being made to upgrade the Landing Link Spans to ensure that the [Woolwich] Ferry Service can operate at ALL stages of Spring Tides? [and] Can you clarify what are the timescales for the reprovisioning of vessels when the current craft reach the end of their days in 2015? — Murad Qureshi

When the tide is very high, it is physically impossible for the ferries to use the terminals because the ferries are higher in the water than the Link Spans. It would be impractical to alter the existing ferry terminals so that they could be used at the time of extreme high Spring Tides. In any case, when the tide reaches such a high level, the flood gates on the north side must be closed across the approach road to prevent flooding; consequentially precluding use of the terminal.

This is no fixed date by which the current ferry boats must be replaced. A number of options are currently being considered for replacement of the ferries and terminals taking into account condition, reliability, operational requirements, costs, savings, availability of finance and procurement options prior to making a decision. This work is being carried out within the context of investigating a package of river crossing options across east London outlined in my new Transport Strategy.

Has any progress been made on [keeping the Woolwich Ferry open throughout the evening during closures to southbound traffic in the Blackwall Tunnel for the duration of ongoing works] and, if not, why? — Len Duvall

[…] To confirm, the Woolwich Ferry hours have been extended with one ferry now running to 22:00 Monday – Thursday.

The introduction of the Oyster Card was welcomed by many of my constituents, and many other Londoners, who use the Thames Clipper services. For obvious reasons, journeys are more costly than other modes of public transport. What consideration have you given to increase the TfL subsidy to the Clipper Service so that it is more in line with those for other forms of transport? — John Biggs

TfL financially supports Thames Clippers’ Monday to Friday peak hour service between Woolwich Arsenal and the London Eye which operates under contract. The actual subsidy paid is calculated in accordance with a formula every four weeks. For example in March Thames Clippers were paid £33,916. 40,000 people travelled on the peak hour commuter service during those four weeks. This works out at 84p per passenger journey. The contract payment does not take into account costs incurred by TfL to introduce Oyster Pay As You Go on Thames Clippers services in November 2009.

TfL has no plans to increase the subsidy to Thames Clippers for performance of the contracted peak hour service. The remainder of Thames Clippers’ services are operated under licence on a commercial basis.

Where will there be new recycling facilities, following the awarding of the morning newspaper contract (MQ1123/2010), and what other environmental projects will be funded? — Mike Tuffrey

We have been working closely with London Underground to develop a programme that will significantly increase access to litter and recycling bins for customers of London Underground.

Over the summer a full review of existing services will be undertaken and new newspaper recycling bins, paid for through the new contract with the metro, will start to appear later in the year.

Associated Newspapers Limited will also be providing a financial contribution towards environmental projects initiated by LU throughout the contract. These could include wildlife or habitat enhancement projects, initiatives to reduce resource use or energy use (including energy efficient technologies) and initiatives to improve recycling.

What proportion of Dial-a-Ride trips in 2007/08, 2008/09 and 2009/10 were regular bookings? [and] In 2006/07 and 2007/08 the target number of Dial-a-Ride trips was 1.5 million. In 2008/09 and 2009/10 the target number of trips was 1.4 million. Why was the target reduced? — Caroline Pidgeon

In 2007/08, 52% of Dial-a-Ride trips were regular bookings. In 2008/09, 45% of Dial-a-Ride trips were regular bookings and in 2009/10, 51% were regular bookings […] However, the proportion of regular booking arrangements in relation to the total number of trips provided is capped to ensure that such arrangements do not cover the whole of the Dial-a-Ride operational capacity and that resources always remain available to accommodate one-off, ad hoc journey requests, which are equally important to the Dial-a-Ride customer base. Therefore, the proportion of Dial-a-Ride trips that result from regular booking arrangements remains relatively constant over time, representing approximately half of all journeys provided.

Targets for annual trip numbers have been below initial aspirations set but I am pleased to say that significant progress has been made in the past two years. There was a five per cent rise in completed trips in 2008/09 and a 6.5 per cent rise in 2009/10. The target for 2010/11 has been reduced to reflect actual trip volumes and improvements to the service rather than projections based on best knowledge of latent demand […]

What is the current total fleet of Dial-a-Ride vehicles and how many are currently off the road? [and] Please can you provide a breakdown of how many Dial-a-Ride vehicles were off the road for each month over the last year? — Caroline Pidgeon

Dial-a-Ride currently has a total vehicle fleet of 374 vehicles consisting of 121 Bluebird Tucanas, 99 Mercedes Vitos and 154 Mercedes Sprinters.

On 11 May, Dial-a-Ride had a total of 31 vehicles off the road, representing 8% of the fleet. Of these vehicles, eight were at the Dial-a-Ride central engineering facility, one undergoing its yearly MOT and seven undergoing routine servicing. The remaining 23 vehicles were in the process of having planned warranty repairs/modifications or minor repairs as identified by the drivers’ daily vehicle inspection regime […] Dial-a-Ride works to the bus industry standard of having no more than 10% of its fleet off the road for planned, preventative and routine maintenance or for ad hoc vehicle repairs at any one time.

Written by Totteridge