Mayor’s Transport Budget

When you wish to see what is happening in London, and what the priorities for transport will be in future, one of the key documents to look at is the Mayor of London’s Transport Budget. His new budget for 2016/2017 has just been published. Here are a few comments on it:

Improving bus journey reliability is a key objective. But guess what, bus journey times have been negatively impacted by the “Road Modernisation Plan” (which includes on-going “improvements” to a number of major road junctions and lots of cycle lanes which have removed road space). As a result “bus mitigation schemes” are required. What does that mean? Probably a lot more bus lanes in essence.

The Road Modernisation Plan is actually costing £4 billion although some of that will apparently go on improving or maintaining existing assets – such as strengthening the Hammersmith Flyover and upgrading the Fore Street tunnel. It will also include “transformational” projects to replace the Wandsworth town centre gyratory, the Vauxhall Cross Gyratory, and projects for the Euston Road, King’s Cross, Highbury Corner and Croydon Fiveways.

For cycling projects there will be £913 million spent through to 2021/2022 which includes the Cycle Superhighways, a number of “Quietways” (cycle routes on minor roads) and numerous smaller projects.

Money will be spent on replacing obsolete wet film speed cameras by digital cameras (amount to be spent not declared), on financing 20 mph schemes, and a trial of “mandatory Intelligent Speed Assistance” (note the rebranding from the former “Intelligent Speed Adaptation”!).

You can see the real priorities by looking at the proposed split of the capital expenditure budget for 2016/2017. This is £1,673m (47%) on Rail and Underground, £1,299m (36%) on Crossrail, £435m (12%) on Surface Transport, with the balance of 5% on “Corporate” (the latter includes commercial development and ticketing projects). In other words, the road network is yet again to be starved of funding in comparison with rail/underground projects despite the road network being used for many more journeys (counting bus trips, private cars, cycling, etc). Indeed if you consider the expenditure on cycling and buses alone, there is surely not much left for other improvements to the road network.

So now you know where the money goes.

Roger Lawson

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