Shaun Bailey’s Policies on Transport

The Conservative Party have selected Shaun Bailey as their candidate Mayor of London in 2020, when Sadiq Khan comes up for re-election. He has served on the London Assembly since May 2016, and previous to that was a youth worker and advisor to Prime Minister David Cameron. He gave a rousing speech at the recent Conservative Party conference.

But what are going to be his policies on transport? His campaign web site ( www.backbailey2020.com ) spells them out. We give a summary here. He intends to:

  • Invest in London’s transport to make sure there is more capacity and increased frequency of public transport to meet the needs of our growing city.
  • Put driverless trains on tracks – he will put driverless trains on tracks, so that hard working Londoners are no longer at the mercy of militant unions.
  • Protect the Freedom Pass – he will protect the Freedom Pass (no sensible politician would say otherwise surely).
  • He will get a grip on road maintenance, and will fight for more control over vehicle taxes to help fund the boroughs and get a grip on London’s potholes and road maintenance.
  • He will scrap the suburban driving tax, i.e. the costly expansion of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone, and use the money instead to fund a clean bus fleet, saving Londoners money and cleaning up the city’s air.

This looks a vote-winning agenda although I am not convinced that the Mayor should have control over vehicle taxes. This should be a national prerogative.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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ANPR Use in London – Big Brother in Operation

A recent report on the Mayorwatch web site said that Transport for London (TfL) expects to take 21 million ANPR images each day to enforce the Congestion Charge and ULEZ zones. Expansion of the ULEZ to the North/South circular will require many more cameras not just on the border of the zone but within it to catch those who only drive within the ULEZ zone. TfL expects to catch as many as 138,000 cars/vans and lorries using automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) technology.

The police do have access to this system so you can see exactly how extensive the surveillance of the population of London will soon be. There will be an additional 2,172 cameras for the expanded ULEZ when London is already one of the most heavily populated areas in the world for surveillance cameras.

These extra ANPR images will cost a capital figure of £1.2 million to upgrade the server to connect to the National ANPR System and a further £555,000 per annum in support/maintenance costs to London’s Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) – see https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/mayors-office-policing-and-crime-mopac/governance-and-decision-making/mopac-decisions-0/anpr-nas-management-server

Comment: this is a typical result of the desire for road pricing and revenue raising – privacy just goes out the window.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Joy Morrisey has the Right Ideas

Joy Morrisey is on the Conservative short list to contest the next Mayoral election in London. She wrote an article for City AM last week (4/9/2018) that echoes much of what the ABD has been saying about transport in London.

Firstly she attacked Sadiq Khan’s record on transport and the ballooning deficit in Transport for London (TfL). She suggests it is a priority to get operating costs under control and that a fresh approach is needed. Here’s an extract of what else she had to say:

“At present, it is not always clear what the current mayor’s plans are – “plans” would suggest that real thought had gone into the mistakes he keeps making and the promises he keeps breaking. But we can see the policies: Khan is trying to force motorists off the road, while squeezing as much money as possible out of those who need to drive.

The mayor’s intention to extend the Ultra-Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) all the way out to the North and South Circulars in 2021 is a case in point.

Consider a family who live just outside the zone, who cannot afford to replace their old car, which they need to drive their kids to a school just inside the zone. They would pay £12.50 a day under Khan’s scheme. A pensioner who has to drive himself to, for example, Whipps Cross Hospital in Leytonstone would pay the same.

It gets worse. The cost of the infrastructure needed to cover this expanded area has been estimated at £780m.

That’s money that should be spent on genuinely improving London’s air quality. For example, £600m would pay for the replacement of 2,000 diesel buses with hybrid vehicles, which emit nearly 80 per cent less nitrogen dioxide.

We need to make it easier for Londoners to leave their car at home, but without punishing those who do drive for making an entirely rational and reasonable choice.

If I became mayor in 2020, I would scrap Khan’s unfair and ill-considered ULEZ expansion, and focus on more effective ways to improve both air quality and transport options in the capital, for all Londoners.

Londoners cannot afford another four years of a mayor guided by cheap headlines and misplaced ideology. Right now, we might be hopelessly lost on our journey towards better transport, but under a different mayor, London can find its direction again.”

All very sensible policies and surely a good basis for an election winning campaign. Let’s hope that she wins the nomination. The other candidates are Andrew Boff and Shaun Bailey

The full City AM article can be read here: http://dev2.cityam.com/262379/london-needs-new-mayor-get-transport-show-back-road . Why not add your own comments?

Let the best man/woman win. But more than one candidate suggests the Mayor needs more powers. Surely it’s more a case of Sadiq Khan not using the powers he already has effectively to improve the transport network, control crime, build more houses and improve the environment.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Crossrail Delay and Sadiq Khan Balloon

It has been announced that the opening of Crossrail is to be delayed until Autumn 2019. It was scheduled to open in December this year. This a major blow to transport plans for London as it was intended to provide a major improvement to public transport capacity across London, and provide correspondingly large revenue increases to Transport for London (TfL).

This could blow an even bigger hole in Mayor Sadiq Khan’s transport budget which was already heading for a deficit of £1 billion pounds in the current year. Crossrail was expected to contribute substantial revenue to TfL in the next financial year but that will now be much reduced. Falling passenger numbers, particularly on buses, and Khan’s inept promise to freeze London transport fares two years ago are the main causes of his budget problems. The promise on fares was a big factor in his election.

The Conservative party have suggested that there were no delays to the ten-year Crossrail project when they ran City Hall.

Mr Khan has also been under attack for his failure to tackle knife crime in London. The latest symptom of this was the launch of a balloon showing Khan in a bikini which emulated the one flown of Donald Trump in Parliament Square. Many people complained that Khan should not have given permission for that as there should have been respect for a foreign head of state and that dabbling in the affairs of other countries was not the role of the Mayor of London.

The latest balloon seems to also be a complaint about other aspects of Khan’s regime and his record on free speech. The organiser was Yanny Bruere who raised £60,000 in a crowdfunding campaign and apparently intends to continue to promote that Khan should be removed. See https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/giant-sadiq-khan-baby-balloon-to-fly-over-london for more information or if you wish to comment.

Note that the ABD has been very critical of Khan’s policies and in particular his “Mayor’s Transport Strategy” – see our campaign on that here: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/against-mts.htm

It is undoubtedly the case that the Mayor’s Transport Strategy and his tax raising ULEZ proposals will not be changed unless he is removed from office by the electorate so supporting this initiative is surely worthwhile. Ridicule is a good a way as any of getting the message across that many people think Sadiq Kahn has demonstrated that he is the worst Mayor of London that we have yet had – and his predecessors were pretty poor. From car-hating Ken Livingstone to cycling fanatic Boris Johnson, none have shown much wisdom.

Directly elected Mayors in London have proved to be very dubious and the extent of their powers means that they have dictatorial control in effect. They are also impossible to remove. The current Mayor even wants to extend his powers over vehicle taxation, the surface rail network and in the planning area. Surely time to reconsider the governance structure in London and for the Government to take more direct control. Mrs Thatcher went so far as to abolish the previous left-wing dominated Greater London Council (GLC) in 1986. That got rid of Ken Livingstone but only temporarily. We now have another populist Mayor in Sadiq Khan who makes promises he cannot keep to win elections – just like Livingstone did. Perhaps you will recall the promise he made to solve traffic congestion with a “Congestion Charge” which naturally did not work. We get similar “gestures” from Sadiq Khan such as the ULEZ proposals which will not cure London’s air pollution problems but will impose very major costs on Londoners.

Time for central Government to intervene and ensure that whoever runs London is more representative of the overall electorate in the metropolis. No more dictators please. And time for Sadiq Khan to go!

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Projects With No Benefit – Rotherhithe Bridge and HS2

When evaluating capital projects, it is wise to estimate the benefit/cost ratio (“BCR”), i.e. the likely value attached to the benefits divided by the overall costs. That is the best way to evaluate differing projects so one can pick the best ones. Those with a negative ratio are clearly not worth doing.

The DfT’s “Value for Money” guidance says a project will generally be regarded as “medium” value if the BCR is between 1.5 and 2; and “high” if it is above 2. The Eddington transport study of 2006 said the BCR for trunk roads was 4.66, local roads 4.23 and light rail schemes a measly 2.14. When there are so many possible projects that give high benefit/cost ratios, why bother with lesser ones? It’s just a misuse of public money to do so.

Transport for London (TfL) have published their response to the results of their public consultation on the proposed new Rotherhithe/Canary Wharf river crossing. This is a vanity project of the latest Mayor, rather like Boris’s “garden bridge” – it was covered in a previous blog post here: https://abdlondon.wordpress.com/2017/11/11/new-thames-river-crossing-at-rotherhithe/

This bridge would only be useable by cyclists and pedestrians and the favourite plan now is for a bridge rather than a tunnel or a ferry. However the bridge would need to have a lifting section to allow for river traffic. How the bridge might be funded is still not clear (possible costs of well over £300 million for a “navigable” bridge was previously estimated including discounted running costs over the life of the bridge). The latest report simply says they are investigating a number of funding options.

More information on costs is given in this document: https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/rivercrossings/rotherhithe-canarywharf/user_uploads/r2cw—background-to-consultation-report.pdf

When it comes to the benefit/cost ratio for the proposed bridge it is estimated to be between 0.7:1 to 1.97:1. In other words, it might actually be negative and will be unlikely to be a “high” return project. Even those figures assume very high usage of the bridge by cyclists and pedestrians but it is justified on the encouragement to cycling and walking that it would provide – and hence is consistent with the Mayor’s “healthy streets” policy.

In summary, this bridge is not justifiable in relation to other transport projects and knowing the Mayor’s budget problems it is simply unaffordable anyway. Time to kick it into the long grass surely before more money is wasted on it?

The latest report on this project from TfL is present here: https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/rivercrossings/rotherhithe-canarywharf/

HS2

In comparison to the aforementioned bridge, the HS2 high-speed rail line is a mega-project of the first order. Likely cost is now more than £80 billion with major disruption in London and many other parts of the country. Local Transport Today (LTT) have published details of a leaked report by Paul Mansell, a Government-appointed advisor. It’s a very damning assessment of the value of the project. It seems his report was not shown to Government ministers before Parliament voted to proceed with the project.

Back in 2013, the benefit/cost ratio of HS2 was calculated by the Government to be 2.3. What it is now, after a major escalation in costs, is not at all clear. But it seems that the only justification for continuing with it is the possible boost to the economy that might be needed if a “hard” Brexit is the outcome.

Surely this is another project that should be canned sooner rather than later, simply because there are better things to spend the money on – and that includes not just railway lines.

It is of course fortunate that we have some benefit/cost information on the above two projects. TfL (and the Mayor of London) now often fail to provide such information. Figuring out whether the ULEZ scheme is worth doing for example is not easy. But in reality it’s wildly negative – see http://www.freedomfordrivers.org/Cost-of-the-ULEZ.pdf

It is unfortunately a symptom of the modern trend to make major public policy decisions on irrational grounds. They just need to sound appealing to a few segments of the population (preferably those who might vote for the politicians backing the proposals), when economics should be the key decision basis.

Roger Lawson

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The Cost of Khan

Gareth Bacon, leader of the GLA Conservatives, has published a very interesting document entitled “The Cost of Khan”. It supplies a half-term report on the regime of Mayor Sadiq Khan and the negative impact he has had in certain areas (crime, planning, parking, housebuilding for example). In essence he suggests one of the key problems is financial mismanagement.

Of particular interest to our readers will be his comments on the activities of TfL (Transport for London) and the budget for that organisation. It covers:

  • Cancellation of new tube trains for the Jubilee and Northern Lines that would have provided much needed extra capacity. That might have saved £600 from the TfL budget but that’s desperately needed after Khan’s expensive promise to freeze public transport fares which cost at least £640 million in foregone revenue. Even that promise was only partly kept.
  • The pay of executive staff in TfL. The number who are paid more than £100,000 p.a. increased by 25% last year so there were 576 such employees. Is the Mayor really cutting the flab out of TfL budgets as he promised to do?
  •  The “T-Charge” which was introduced last October and will cost Londoners £23 million a year despite the Mayor’s own Impact Assessment saying it will have only a negligible impact on pollution (and that has been borne out by real data since).
  •  Nominee passes which you may not be aware of are highlighted. These allow TfL employees to nominate family members and anyone who resides in the same household to obtain free travel. Even flatmates qualify! There are 39,884 people who are nominees and the cost might be equivalent to £32 million in lost revenue per year.

Those and other reports show how the Mayor has been so wasteful of financial resources with the result that he is desperate to raise money from the T-Charge and the ULEZ charge which will impose major unnecessary costs on Londoners. In the personal view of this writer TfL continues to be a massive and very expensive bureaucracy which is unaccountable to the public. It formulates transport policy that will increase the bureaucracy and then does public consultations designed to get the right answers. TfL needs major reform but the Mayor does not seem to have it under control.

The “Cost of Khan” Report is present here: https://www.glaconservatives.co.uk/uploads/1/1/7/8/117899427/final_cost_of_khan__2_.pdf

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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More on the ULEZ Expansion

Apart from the lack of any proper cost/benefit justification for the ULEZ expansion as I explained in my previous blog post on the subject (see https://abdlondon.wordpress.com/2018/06/08/mayor-proceeds-with-expansion-of-ulez/), there are other very good reasons why you should see this as a very dangerous step.

As I have already pointed out, once the infrastructure is put in place for this scheme it will enable the Mayor to introduce congestion charging schemes in future over most of London. But there are lots of other possible negative scenarios.

You may say, I am not too concerned because I don’t drive an old diesel vehicle or I can afford to buy a new vehicle that is exempt. But once the Mayor obtains this power to obtain money from vehicle owners in London he can easily vary the rules so that everyone is paying a lot more money in taxes.

For example, he could claim that come 2022, the new ULEZ has proved to be less effective than expected in reducing air pollution. Indeed that is very likely to be the case. Or he might simply say that air pollution is still not good enough. He could justify charging all vehicle users accordingly, even the latest petrol and diesel vehicles. Indeed he could argue that even electric vehicles should be included as they generate particulates from brake and tyre wear. So it could be not just £12.50 per day for older diesel vehicles, but for everyone!

In addition as we saw with the central London Congestion Charge (a.k.a. Tax) this was initially set at £5 per day but is now £11.50, i.e. it’s more than doubled but has not proved any more effective. It now generates significant revenue for TfL above operating costs. So instead of the ULEZ charge being £12.50 it could soon be moved to £15, £20 or even £30 per day and for everyone.

Do you think that the Mayor and TfL have no such intention and have not even looked to the future prospects for this scheme? Think again. The ULEZ is being driven by the desire for more income by the Mayor. Follow the money as always in politics. Discouraging motor vehicles by high charges on everyone who owns one would be perfectly consistent with his objective, as stated in his Transport Strategy, to reduce car usage to a fraction of what it is at present.

A particularly sickening aspect of this matter is the involvement by the Mayor of very young schoolchildren to promote his policies and his politics. He announced the latest extension at Netley Primary School in Euston. This “photo opportunity” was covered by the national media extensively. But what do schoolchildren know about this subject? And why should their teachers be allowing this kind of politicking in their schools? Netley Primary School is close to the Marylebone Road, one of the most polluted roads in London, but even so this hardly justifies the involvement of young children. Mayor Sadiq Khan is a serial offender in this regard as he has done this previously. Children should not be used by politicians to promote their financial policies.

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