Crossrail and Demonstrations – Disastrous Impact on Mayor’s Budget

The BBC have reported that Crossrail (otherwise known as the “Elizabeth Line”) could be delayed until 2021. A senior source associated with the project has apparently told the BBC that testing of the trains and signalling was proving difficult and none of the new stations on the line are yet complete.

This will cause major problem for Sadiq Khan because the income from passengers on the line was going to help fill the yawning operating deficit of Transport for London (TfL) in 2019-2020. This was already forecast to be a negative £1.44 billion in that year. Or “net revenue expenditure” as TfL prefer to euphemistically call it, when it is a simple case of massive losses where revenue does not even cover operating costs let alone capital expenditure.

TfL expected to get £170 million from passenger fares on Crossrail in the current financial year and £350 million next year (2020-2021). That’s going to have a major negative impact on the deficit in TfL.

The delays to Crossrail are also likely to mean even more capital expenditure than on Crossrail than was forecast in the current financial year – that’s another few billion pounds probably.

Demonstrations Not Helping

Much of TfL’s income comes from Bus and Tube fares at present. The current demonstrations by Extinction Rebellion are severely disrupting bus operations and no doubt reducing fare income. As many as 50 bus routes run through Oxford Circus, Oxford Street and Regent Street alone. Is that why the Mayor initially supported the demonstrations but has now changed his tune? The threat to disrupt the Underground services must have been the last straw.

The additional overtime for police officers to control these demonstrations may also be running into millions of pounds which the Mayor will have to pay for.

The Mayor suggests in his latest tweet that his concern is about the safety of the public, but as usual with Sadiq Khan the truth may be otherwise – it’s about money! There is also the problem that the Mayor is up for re-election in May 2020 and by then his financial budget will be looking quite appallingly bad. With no more give-aways possible to bribe the electorate with this time around, he has a real problem!

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Hammersmith Bridge Closure

Hammersmith Bridge 2

Hammersmith Bridge in west London has been closed “indefinitely” by the local Council after safety checks revealed “critical faults”. This Victorian bridge was never designed for modern traffic, particularly heavy buses, and has been falling into disrepair for some time.

The local council (Hammersmith & Fulham) and Transport for London (TfL) blames lack of funding to repair the bridge and in particular cuts in Government funding. Financing major bridge repairs would normally be the responsibility of TfL so they are clearly the ones to blame. The Government says they have given billions of pounds in funding to TfL so it’s not their fault. In other words, everyone is trying to make political capital out of this management failure.

Hammersmith Bridge is a key part of the road network and there is a legal obligation on the local Council under their Network Management Duty (see the Traffic Management Act) to keep it open. But local councils only have very limited funding for transport projects and rely on TfL for major projects.

The estimated cost of the required work to repair the bridge is £11 million. Meanwhile TfL is planning to spend at least £400 million on a new pedestrian/cyclist only bridge at Rotherhithe. Surely TfL have their priorities wrong?

Residents who wish to complain should complain to Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, because he heads TfL, and also to the local council. However Labour controlled Hammersmith & Fulham Council have known about the problems with this bridge for many years but done nothing (that Council has responsibility for the bridge).

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Press Release: ULEZ – A Tax to Fill the Mayor’s TFL Budget Black Hole

The Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) was introduced on the 8th April in the central London zone. Non-compliant car owners will have to pay £12.50 per day in addition to the Congestion Charge (a.k.a. Tax) of £11.50. Penalties for not paying are severe. Vans and HGV vehicle drivers will pay even more and even owners of older motorcycles have to pay even though their emissions are very low.

There are numerous anomalies in this tax which will particularly affect those who drive older cars who are typically the poorer members of the community. Those who drive very expensive modern supercars or luxury vehicles with large engines will not be paying even though the emissions from them are high.

Those who bought diesel vehicles only a few years ago, encouraged by the Government because of their lower CO2   emissions, will now find they are paying this tax or will have to buy a new vehicle.

In reality the ULEZ is a tax designed to bolster the Mayor of London’s income to fix his mismanagement of the Transport for London budget. The tax could take over £1 billion per year out of the London economy and yet it is unlikely to significantly improve the air quality in London.

Mayor Sadiq Khan claims there is a public health crisis from air pollution in London so as to justify these new taxes but that is simply not true. He is even using ill-informed children to promote his claims.

In 2021 this tax will be extended to everywhere within the North/South Circular which will affect millions of car owners in London. The Alliance of British Drivers has been opposing the ULEZ scheme since it was announced. But the public is only now waking up to the ULEZ and other aspects of the Mayor’s Transport Strategy. The ABD has opposed similar schemes in Birmingham, Bath and elsewhere. Some have already been reconsidered due to local opposition, but the Mayor of London is not listening.

ABD Campaign Director Roger Lawson had this to say: “The Mayor is dressing up this new tax as a way to improve our health when it will not. It’s blatant misleading of the public by a Mayor good at rhetoric but bad at actually managing the capital’s finances. The Mayor has manufactured a false emergency so he can say that he is taking urgent and bold action to “save” people from it.

Notes:

To check whether your vehicle is compliant go here: https://tinyurl.com/ya4usuqr

For more information see this page of the ABD’s web site covering our campaign against the Mayor’s Transport Strategy and the ULEZ, the financial facts and spurious environmental claims: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/environment.htm

Rotherhithe Cycle and Pedestrian Bridge

An article contributed by the Rotherhithe Bridge Action Group:

Sadiq Khan’s Taxpayer funded vanity project – the world’s longest and tallest vertical lift bridge.

Rotherhithe Bridge 2Rotherhithe Bridge 1

TfL recently confirmed that their chosen bridge design, connecting the eastern fringes of Rotherhithe to Canary Wharf, is a vertical lift bridge with a truss deck. The bridge will have concrete towers 90m tall and 15m wide, supporting a bridge deck 180m long. The Rotherhithe Bridge design is 10m longer than the Arthur Kill railroad bridge, currently the world’s longest vertical lift bridge. The deck will lift to a height of 60m above the mean spring high waters to facilitate the movement of large vessels.

The initial cost of the Rotherhithe Bridge is currently estimated at £400m+, with project costs at £600m (including operating, renewal and maintenance costs of £2.4m per annum over the appraisal period of the asset). Currently the GLA have allocated just over £100m towards the Rotherhithe Bridge. As private funding has failed to meet the remaining cost, TfL have confirmed that the funding will come from the 2017/18-2021/22 Healthy Streets Programme budget. As a result many programmes, which include cycling projects, are at risk of being postponed or cancelled.

TfL analysed the Navigable Bridge (swing design) as having the highest Benefit to Cost Ratio (“BCR”) value of 1.97:1, as compared to a tunnel or enhanced ferry. Further investigation shows that TfL used a bridge cost of £19m or less to achieve this favourable 1.97 BCR value. Using the current bridge cost estimates gives a realistic BCR value of just 0.65:1. This project, therefore, represents poor value for money and always has done. TfL have actually estimated a swing bridge cost of between £182m and £274m (including 52% optimum bias), so it is difficult to understand the reasons for using the erroneous £19m value in the BCR analysis. Sadiq Khan and TfL have failed to provide an explanation. Since the Mayor was made aware of this material error in 2018 he has spent a further £7.2m on the Rotherhithe Bridge project.

More information on the BCR analysis is provided in this document:

https://irp-cdn.multiscreensite.com/80a646fd/files/uploaded/BCR%20analysis.pdf

TfL have chosen the central alignment connecting Durand’s Wharf Park, south of the river, to Westferry Circus. No feasability study was commissioned to determine the most suitable location for a bridge in East London. TfL confirmed that this was because the location had been selected by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. Spending £600m on any project without commissioning this basic assessment is irresponsible at best.

Thames Clippers is currently working with Beckett Rankine to develop a rival scheme to the Rotherhithe Bridge. This uses three all electric, zero emission, ferries with a new pier at Rotherhithe and an extended pier at Canary Wharf. The total cost would be under £30m which is a fraction of the £400m+ cost of the Rotherhithe Bridge. The ferries would be cycle-on cycle-off and during peak times all three would run, departing every few minutes. There are a number of examples where this works well around the world including Gosport and Amsterdam.

With Sadiq Khan’s mantra being that he will not tolerate any waste of public money; it is hard to understand why so much Taxpayer funds are being spent on the Rotherhithe Bridge. The free to use enhanced ferry is a far cheaper viable alternative, which meets the “Healthy Streets” objectives without compromising other projects.

Karryn Beaumont

Rotherhithe Bridge Action Group

www.rotherhithebridge.uk

 

City of London Corporation Ignores Representations

We reported previously on the consultation by the City of London Corporation (effectively one of the London boroughs) on their future transport strategy – see https://tinyurl.com/yd3qne6c . The ABD opposed several aspects of the proposals including a City-wide speed limit of 15 mph and a zero emission vehicle only standard for the whole of the City. The “Unblock” body also made representations to change the routing of the East-West Cycle Superhighway from the Upper/Lower Thames Street route.

The Corporation has now reported on the results of the consultation and its proposed decisions. Although there were many individual objections by organisations and individuals, no significant changes to the proposals, including the points above, are being considered.

The reason is because there was overall support for reducing road traffic and putting walking first – as most of the respondents to the consultation will have been City workers, that may not be surprising. But it totally ignores the needs for those who have to service business activity in the City, and the practicality of these proposals. It seems that the City Corporation has been captured by the irrational anti-vehicle fanatics.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Higher Permit Parking Charges in Croydon, Kingston and Lewisham

We previously covered the increase in permit parking charges in Camden – see https://tinyurl.com/y2tw5kcd . This will particularly affect users of larger vehicles that emit more CO2 and diesel engined vehicles and are described as “Emission Based Parking Charges”.

Now Croydon, Kingston and Lewisham are proposing similar changes. In Croydon it will mean the permit parking charge for a vehicle emitting more than 225 g/km of CO2 will rise from £80 to £300. There will also be an additional surcharge of 30% for pre-2015 diesel vehicles. It is also proposed to introduce similar increases for Pay & Display Parking Spaces. There is more information and a link to the full council report in this Inside Croydon article: https://tinyurl.com/y4pfwj99

The justification is to reduce air pollution and help with climate change when levels of CO2 have no impact on public health whatsoever – if anything higher CO2 levels have benefits for plants and animals. So it’s fundamentally misconceived. There is also no evidence that such charges will have any impact on air pollution as anyone with off-street parking will not be affected, many vehicles that drive on Croydon roads do not park in the borough and most problem emissions such as particulates are from buses, HGVs and LGVs which won’t be affected.

Although the Council has not yet published the impact it will have on money raised by the borough from permit parking charges, it is likely to lead to very substantial increases. Readers are reminded that permit parking charges can not be used as a revenue raising measure. This is well established by previous legal cases (Camden v Cran and in Barnet).

There will be a public consultation on these proposals – boCroydon residents are encouraged to respond.

Kingston Council

Very similar proposals are also being put forward by Kingston Council. See https://tinyurl.com/yxdss7do . In Kingston the highest rate will be £350 per annum plus an additional £50 for diesel vehicles (even diesel hybrid ones). Affected residents should submit objections.

These changes are undoubtedly being encouraged by Transport for London (TfL) as part of the Mayor’s Transport Strategy. But the attempt to improve public health by introducing emission based parking charges is fundamentally misconceived and will not work. It’s all about money as usual with Councils of late.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Mayor Lies at the People’s Question Time in Bexley

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA On the 14th March there was a “People’s Question Time” in Bexley where Mayor Sadiq Khan answered questions from the public (photo left).

It commenced by the Mayor suggesting that London’s roads were unsafe because he had no control over road safety in response to a question on junction improvement. He claimed that 95% of the roads are controlled by local boroughs, suggesting it was their fault. But in reality, the Mayor via TfL controls almost all the money spent on roads and road safety. TfL dictates what projects local boroughs can spend on by only funding what they like. In addition they dictate transport strategy directly. As a result, boroughs are forced to spend hundreds of millions of pounds on 20 mph wide area speed limits that have been proven to be totally ineffective, on cycle lanes, speed hump schemes and other pointless measures.

The Mayor was also criticised for spending £400 million on the proposed Rotherhithe cycle/pedestrian bridge, and when it came to policing there was applause from the audience when one person suggested he could solve the crime problem overnight by just diverting money spent on cycle lanes to the police.

When discussing public transport the Mayor said that London is the only city in the world that is not subsidised by Government. That is simply not true. TfL receives £3.2 billion in grants which is 31% of TfL’s income. Most of that money comes from taxes and much comes from central Government – see https://tfl.gov.uk/corporate/about-tfl/how-we-work/how-we-are-funded .

In response to questions on the environment the Mayor said that London air is a killer which is a gross exaggeration. But he got one point right – namely that diesel buses are a major problem. He said the worst areas for air pollution in London are those with the most buses. He said they are not buying any more diesel buses and are retrofitting existing ones.

He got criticism on the ULEZ but apparently expects central Government to bail out folks who cannot afford to buy a new car, which is highly unlikely to happen.

His final major point was to promote another referendum on Brexit. What a pity that Parliament ruled it out the same day which probably pleased the audience and certainly pleased me.

You can see a recording of the meeting here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lmqgw6OjMD4

Mayor’s Tax Precept Rises

There were a number of criticisms of the Mayor’s financial policies at the meeting described above. London residents may have just realised that their local Council Tax is rising significantly this year and one reason is that the Mayor’s tax precept that you pay in your Council Tax, and is passed through to the GLA, is rising by 8.93%. That’s way ahead of inflation and is another example of the Mayor’s financial incompetence.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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