A Glimpse At The Transport Path Ahead

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A TfL presentation delivered to Sadiq Khan, the newly elected Mayor of London, has surfaced online. It offers an insight into the transport announcements we can expect in the near future. It also indicates a clear commitment by TfL to delivering the Mayor’s manifesto pledges with particular focus on the Ultra Low Emission Zone.

Delivering Your Manifesto, which first appeared on the BBC News website on Friday, showcases an intriguing mix of Sadiq Khan’s mayoral campaign and TfL branding. It also includes an overview of the milestone already in the works for the coming year and the following three years of the mayoral term. How TfL might deliver Sadiq’s pledges in the short term is particularly eyecatching.

Putting it in context

The TfL press office have confirmed that this is genuine document that was quickly pulled together to present to the Mayor. It is not meant to outline concrete proposals, but was intended to structure a constructive discussion between TfL and the new Mayor of London in his first days in office. According to the BBC, the aims set out in it were drawn up by Transport Commissioner Mike Brown and were presented to the Mayor after their meeting at City Hall on Monday.

It sets out Transport for London’s commitment to Khan’s election campaign pledges and on its first page states that there will be a focus on freezing fares paid for by delivering structural and operational efficiencies, being more commercially focused and reducing the use of expensive contractors.

This is followed by a commitment on a new transport plan for London, which discretely highlights that some re-ordering of priorities may be required if this isn’t feasible:

We will work with you to prioritise the big things that matter in a new delivery plan for transport in London, while seeking to protect services and investment.

Delivering Your Manifesto lists a number of quick wins deemed actionable in the first weeks of Khan’s reign. It also includes deliverables for his first 100 days and a vision of the milestones in the following year and subsequent three years. It then focuses on how transport policy and decisions can support tackling wider issues such as security, skills, inequality, air quality, health and cultural events.

Although the detail on the listed policies is sparse (if present at all) it is clearly accurate and since the meeting on Monday some of the policies it includes have already been announced in greater detail.

Below we take a look at the policies, adding extra detail where this is already in the public sphere, or taking cues from Sadiq Khan’s campaign manifesto in an effort to frame the direction of the policy.

Bus Hopper

Headlining the quick wins list is the Bus Hopper –Khan’s pledge to shake up the bus fare structure. As Delivering Your Manifesto hints at (and has since been announced) an interim version of the new bus ticket to be rolled out in September will allow for two bus trips to be made within one hour.

The Hopper fare will automatically be given to anyone who uses pay as you go with Oyster cards or contactless payments, and will allow passengers to make an additional bus journey for free within one hour of touching in on the first bus. For the vast majority of passenger this will mean an end to having to pay two bus fares when changing bus routes, and it is expected particularly to benefit Londoners on lower incomes who often rely on the bus network to get around

In essence this is the extension across the whole network of a technical solution already in place to allow bus-to-tram and tram-to-tram transfer in Croydon. This represents the limit of what is possible with the current technology, which does not allow for unlimited bus transfers within an hour. As ticketing technology is to be upgraded – currently set for 2017 – an unlimited transfer bus ticket will be available. The BBC reports that the Mayor of London’s office estimates that around 86m journeys a year would benefit from this policy, as they currently include more than one bus trip within an hour.

The price tag of a one hour bus hopper is an estimated £50m. London Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon, who has been advocating for the for a bus hopper since 2009, pressed the former Mayor of London Boris Johnson on the cost of a One Hour bus pass at Mayor’s Question Time in November 2014. TfL estimated the loss of fare revenue from pay as you go customers taking more than one bus trip on a journey to amount to £50m per year. To put this into perspective, this represents around 1%t of Transport for London’s annual £4.6bn revenue intake from fares.

Air Quality

The presentation announces that delivering on air quality:

[W]ill be the most ambitious in London’s history, with nothing left off the table in the run up to the introduction of the ULEZ.

It also suggests that there will be a new consultation on air quality within the Mayor’s first 100 days in office.

TfL promise also promise to:

[T]ake action to improve our operations and change the way London travel to improve air quality

The introduction of the world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone in London was confirmed in March 2015. It is to be launched in Central London in September 2020 with the aim of significantly improving air quality and protecting the health of Londoners. It will require vehicles entering the Congestion Charging Zone in Central London to meet new emissions standards at any time of the day, all year round, or pay a charge. Taxi drivers are to be offered grants to upgrade to a greener vehicle. £40m was committed to this by the Mayor at the time, with an additional £25m of support from the national government. Measures put forward by the new Mayor will require all newly license taxis to be zero-emission capable from 2018.

The announcement also included a commitment that all 300 single-decker buses in operation in central London would be zero emission and all 3500 double-deckers (including the 1000 NBfLs) would be hybrid by 2020.

This announcement is reiterated in Delivering Your Manifesto. As announced this past week, the new Mayor is also proposing to commit TfL to only purchasing hybrid or zero-emission double decker buses from 2018 onwards. Measures committed to by the new Mayor are underway for the retrofit of 2000 Euro V buses across London to meet Euro VI standards by 2020 and for all buses to meet Euro VI standards by 2023 – although both are still subject to funding to support this.

This past week, the Mayor has announced proposals for doubling the Ultra Low Emission Zone to stretch north and south of the Congestion Charging Zone rather than just include the part of central London within it. The new Ultra Low Emission Zone will extend to the North and South Circular. The consultation on these proposals is to be published in the coming weeks and could come into effect in 2019 – a year earlier than originally announced under Boris Johnson.

It was also announced that an extra charge on the most polluting vehicles would be introduced in addition to the congestion charge in 2017. This polluting charge is to be administered by the same system as congestion charging. In addition, Khan is proposing to introduce ULEZ standards for heavy vehicles London-wide from 2020. Alongside this, the LoCity programme is to continue working with manufacturer, operators and businesses to reduce HGV and van emission.

Sadiq Khan has also reaffirmed commitment to the Mayor’s Air Quality Fund which is intended to help London’s boroughs address local air quality hotspots.

Cycling

Delivering Your Manifesto sets out that Transport for London will support the Mayor’s commitment to cycling by continuing:

to promote cycling through physical improvements to the road network, and effective marketing and training.

According to the document it is expected that the Mayor will announce cycling training schemes at a press event at one of the newly opened Cycle Super Highways.

Walking

The presentation suggests that the new Mayor will champion a ‘strategy to get London walking’ and announce a Walking Champion – possibly suggesting a political appointee like Boris Johnson’s cycling tsar Andrew Gilligan for cycling.

Ticket Office Closures

Delivering Your Manifesto suggests that we can expect a ‘customer-focused review of the ticket office closures.’ Sadiq Khan repeatedly condemned former Mayor of London Boris Johnson’s axing of ticket offices on the London Underground network. Khan, however, did not commit to re-opening ticket offices in the run up to the election. His manifesto instead sets out to ‘examine the impact’ of the ticket office closures and ‘explore what could be done at key locations to ensure everyone is able to purchase tickets’

Night Tube

The presentation outlines that two London Underground lines will be ready to run on weekend nights from this summer. No details were offered here or by the TfL Press Office as to which lines these may be.

Turning South London Orange

Above ground, the suggestion seems to be that the Mayor of London will engage in discussions with the Department for Transport on the next steps of rail devolution to Transport for London’s remit – a logical next step following the consultation document jointly published by the DfT and TfL. This was a proposal for a currently detail-poor partnership between TfL and the DfT on managing mainline rail services in London and the wider South East of England.

The transfer of the Southeastern rail franchise appears to be a delivery milestone already in place for the 2018-2020 time period according the document. This may hint at an agreement already reached between TfL and the DfT. The Secretary of State would need to sign over management of the Southeastern routes for the capital’s transport agency to start managing the mainline rail routes via a concession like the London Overground.

The Southeastern franchise for routes to South East London and beyond will open for tender later this year. The new franchisee will be announced in 2017 with the new franchise start date set for 2018.

Oxford Street

There has been cross party support for the idea of pedestrianisation of Oxford Street ahead of the election with practically all parties supportive of prioritising pedestrians on London’s famous high street.

In January the former Mayor of London confirmed that TfL and Westminster City Council officers were ‘examining a range of options of improving the environment for pedestrians on Oxford Street.’ Options being considered were ‘reducing traffic, widening footways, reducing and relocating bus stops and pedestrianisation’.

Currently Oxford Street has sub-par pollution levels which pedestrianisation would help to address. There are also a number of challenges, however, that removing all vehicular traffic on the high street would present. Currently many radial bus routes funnel into Central London via Oxford Street and it therefore acts as an important public transport interchange between bus routes and with the London Underground. There have been suggestions that a shuttle service might run along the street with bus routes terminating at either end. It is expected that pedestrian footfall will rise noticeably, putting ever greater pressure on the shopping street, when Crossrail opens in the stages in the coming years.

It appears from Delivering Your Manifesto that the consultation on the pedestrianisation of Oxford Street ties in with the wider London consultation on air quality in London.

Security review

A firm manifesto commitment, an announcement is expected shortly on the remit and scale of a security review. This will include investigation into London’s ability to deal with major terrorist incidents. A press release by the Mayor’s Office outlines that the review:

[W]ill involve the Metropolitan Police, the London Fire Brigade, the National Health Service, local authorities, Transport for London, the Port of London and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, and will ensure that London is ready to deal with a major terrorist incident.

Consultancy Service

The presentation suggests that TfL will put forward a proposal for a new consultancy arm. The consultancy is intended to raise revenue to be reinvested into transport in London. His manifesto outlined that the trading arm would sell Transport for London expertise across the world – possibly similar to TfL’s predecessor’s consultancy London Transport International – that traded across the world from the mid 1970s to 1990s.

Crossrail 2

Delivering Your Manifesto sets out the expectation that the new Mayor of London will decide on the board members of the Crossrail 2 Board in the next few weeks. It also sets out an expectation that a route for Crossrail 2 will be set during Khan’s first 100 days in office.

The north-east branch of Crossrail 2 currently has two proposed options – one via Wood Green, the other via Turnpike Lane and Alexandra Palace. To the south, the newly proposed route is for Crossrail 2 to link Clapham Junction to Wimbledon via Balham instead of Tooting Broadway, before diverging to the regional branches to Shepperton, Hampton Court, Chessington South and Epsom.

Fares

The presentation indicates that more clarity on the fare structure for 2017 is expected in the first few weeks of the Mayor’s term. This follows a fare freeze pledge – promising fares to stay at 2016 levels for the duration of the 4 year term – during Khan’s mayoral election campaign.

Modernisation of the Taxi and Private Hire Industry

Delivering Your Manifesto suggests Khan will act quickly to pursue reform in the industry, although no detail is offered.

His manifesto set out that he was committed to ensuring:

the market for licensed taxi drivers and the private hire drivers are fair with special privileges built in for those who become licensed London taxi driver.

The document indicates that Khan may announce a doubling of the Taxi and Private Hire enforcement officers at TfL to meet his manifesto pledges to:

ensure that driver safety standards are rigorously enforced across the black cab and private hire industries

This is also to ensure that licensed black cab taxi drivers retain their exclusive right to use bus lanes and ply for hire. The latter may support increasing bus speeds and reliability or offer more road space for those cycling.

Written by Nicole Badstuber