TfL Board Commissioner’s Report: The Road & Buses

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[Below are the noteworthy extractions from the Commissioner’s Report – MWM]

Traffic Signal Timing Reviews

Traffic signal timings are reviewed in order to reduce the time vehicles spend idling in queues, the number of stops between signals and pollutant emissions. From April 2009 to March 2010, 675 signal timing reviews have been completed. So far, this has brought a 5.7 per cent increase in the number of occasions when all queued traffic will be discharged during the first green. This has been achieved alongside a 1.2 per cent increase in the number of occasions when all pedestrians waiting to cross the road will have cleared the kerb during the first green man period.

Pedestrian Countdown at Signals

On 8 March, TfL made a submission to the Highways Agency and the DfT to gain approval for on-street trials of eight signals with all red stages. Should the request be successful, on-street trials will commence in mid-2010. Depending on the success of the trials, implementation of the technology could start in 2012.

Streetworks Permitting

Since the introduction of the permit scheme on 11 January, TfL has received 7,000 permit applications. Crucially, TfL have been able to refuse about 1,000 for a variety of reasons, something that was previously not possible. This is already reducing unnecessary disruption. As a result of permitting, authorities now get accurate works start dates, which facilitates the coordination of works and collaborative working within one traffic management area.

Code of Conduct

In April 2009, the Mayor agreed a voluntary Code of Conduct for roadworks with the five largest utility companies working in London (Thames Water, National Grid Gas, EDF Energy Networks, BT Openreach and Virgin Media). A progress assessment released by TfL found that the amount of utility works taking place outside peak hours on TfL roads by companies signed up to the Code had doubled. The progress report also found a reduction in the number of works inspected that required improvement for safety reasons, and only a small number of sites failing to display standard information signage.

Subsequently, on 25 February, representatives of London’s six major utilities and TfL met with the Mayor to sign up to a stronger version of the Code of Conduct. The new, sixth signatory is Southern Gas. Furthermore, the major utility companies and London’s boroughs have been invited to attend a Managing the Road Network summit on 12 March, where they discussed how to make further progress in reducing the disruption caused by road works.

Section 17 Overstay Charges

On 1 March, the DfT launched a consultation on plans to charge companies who allow their road works to overrun penalties of up to £25,000 a day – a tenfold increase on the current £2,500 maximum daily charge. The DfT is also setting out proposals for a tougher inspection regime giving local authorities more powers to charge utility companies for inspecting road works in their streets.

Elephant & Castle Southern Roundabout

On 15 February, works began to transform Elephant and Castle southern roundabout to a signalled junction. The preliminary works will involve preparations for new traffic signals and street lighting, repairs to drainage systems, and temporary alterations to the traffic island on the approach to the roundabout from Walworth Road.

The main works will start this summer, and will include putting in new cycle lanes and advanced stop lines for cyclists at junctions. Paved areas next to the roads will also be widened to provide more space for pedestrians and cyclists to navigate the junction quickly and safely. As traffic lights are being installed, the subways around the roundabout will be filled in and replaced with surface crossings, providing easier crossing options for local residents. New trees will be planted, and railings and other unnecessary clutter related to the subways removed. The main works are scheduled to be completed by early 2011.

Kender Street Triangle

On 15 February, TfL started work to convert the Kender Street Triangle to two-way traffic by removing the gyratory. The area will be made safer and more attractive for pedestrians and cyclists, by improving crossings and including a new cycle lane along Queen’s Road.

The gyratory removal works will be complemented by ‘Streets for People’ works by the London Borough of Lewisham. These works, funded by TfL, are currently planned to begin in 2011 and will look to transform the appearance of the Kender Street Triangle. Works are also due to start soon on a scheme linked to road improvements that will revamp the neighbouring Hatcham Gardens. This work, as part of the Mayor’s Great Spaces scheme, will see trees planted, new park furniture, a drinking fountain and a play space provided.

Tottenham Hale Gyratory

On 12 March, the results of a consultation into proposals to change the current Tottenham Hale one-way gyratory system to a two-way traffic flow system were published. There is a clear majority in favour of changing the one-way system into a two-way system, with 80 per cent of respondents in support, and only nine per cent opposed. Following comments received through the consultation some minor changes have been made to the overall design. Utility diversions and advance works are due to commence this summer, through to spring 2011, with the main construction works commencing in September 2012.

Battersea Bridge Lighting Improvement Works

On 1 March, TfL began minor refurbishment works to the lighting on Battersea Bridge. A new, more efficient lighting system, which has been designed to complement the bridge’s heritage lamp columns, will be installed and the lamp columns along the bridge will be repainted. While this work is carried out, one of the footways will be closed, while the other will remain open. The road will remain open for the duration of the works, and the delivery of all essential site materials has been scheduled to take place in the early hours of the morning.

New Bus for London

Wrightbus, the company awarded the contract to design and build the New Bus for London, is now making progress with the underlying engineering design of the major structural frame, and has entered into negotiations with the principal component suppliers. TfL expects to have an engineering mock-up available for functional and geometric testing in the spring. Styling concepts for the bus are now being finalised, and the project is starting to focus on the chassis programme and the design of key composite parts.

East London Transit

The infrastructure for Phase 1a of the East London Transit (ELT) project is now complete, ahead of schedule and within budget. The new EL1 and EL2 services commenced service on 20 February. This 24 hour, high frequency bus service will now carry six million passengers a year between Ilford, Barking and Dagenham Dock. Sixteen brand new buses were manufactured exclusively for the route and are fitted with the latest environmentally friendly technology as well as TfL’s real-time information iBus system.

A number of streetscape improvements have also been delivered as part of work on the new service. This included extra parking, road re-surfacing, better street lighting, upgraded bus stops and shelters and improved public spaces. The ELT also adds to work taking place to kick-start the regeneration of the Thames Gateway. It will provide new transport links to Tube and rail stations as well as providing bus services for residents on the Barking Riverside development.

To support the launch of the ELT, London Transport Museum’s Safety and Citizenship team ran interactive sessions with students from Thames View Junior School in Barking, to highlight the benefits that the new buses bring, and also to educate the children on being safe and responsible around buses. In the academic year 2008/09, the Safety and Citizenship team and its voluntary Safety and Citizenship Officers talked to over 130,000 students at primary and secondary school level to promote safe, responsible and confident travel on and around public transport.

Written by Mwmbwls