Very High Public Transport Use in London

The Transport Statistics User Group (TSUG) have reported that London went from having the lowest public transport mode share of five selected European cities in 1995 to the highest now – from 25% to 80%. That’s even higher than Singapore for example, although Mayor Sadiq Khan and TfL would like it to be even higher.

Why is the proportion of public transport so high in London? I suggest it is because of relentless attacks on cars and degradation of the road network, accompanied by massive subsidies to buses and to public transport in general from the offer of Freedom Passes to the over 60s and the young. Hardly anyone pays the full public transport fare in London. This lunatic financial arrangement is bankrupting Transport for London and putting enormous financial pressure on local London boroughs who have to cover a lot of the costs. But politicians won’t be honest with the public on these matters.

Sadiq Khan made the matter worse by promising no public transport fare rises so as to get elected, but this false economy is causing local boroughs to raise council tax and cut back on social services really aggressively.

I suspect financial mismanagement will continue unless there is a change of Mayor.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

 

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London is Open, But Should It Be Closed?

This article was originally conceived as one being about the latest increases in transport congestion in London. The last couple of weeks seem to have been much busier than normal with high traffic congestion. In addition public transport has been particularly bad, not helped by the recent strikes on the tube which of course Mayor Sadiq Khan promised to put a stop to in his election campaign. He promised “zero days of strikes”, but perhaps he is too busy trying to tackle rising crime levels in London.

But these transport issues are surely the result of too many people in London with no improvements in the road network to compensate for the rising population and “densification” of the capital. Likewise inadequate public transport capacity has arisen because building new capacity never catches up with the growth in demand and available funding. A substantial part of the population increase has arisen from immigration.

Last Friday the Mayor reiterated his “London is Open” campaign by inviting EU Ambassadors to a meeting at City Hall. The meeting focussed on “Brexit and the welfare of EU communities living in London”. How many people have come from the EU to live in London? About 1 million in fact. That’s not even counting the sons and daughters of immigrants.

The Mayor is then going to visit Berlin and Paris where he will reiterate that London is “open to talent”. I guess that means he is happy to encourage more immigration as he has said before. The “London is Open” campaign was launched with this headline: “Let’s say together – me, you, and thousands of other Londoners – that despite Brexit, London will always be open to the world, proud of our diversity and inclusive to everyone”.

If the Mayor wishes to solve London’s transport problems surely he should be encouraging people to move out of London and discouraging more immigration. London is overcrowded already. We don’t need more people here.

Perhaps Mrs May will welcome Sadiq Khan’s interference in the Brexit negotiations which he is also doing of late and in these meetings, but I suspect not. His policies on immigration are certainly not likely to be of positive benefit to most Londoners even if he thinks they might help him to get re-elected. Immigration might provide useful workers in some roles, but they also add to housing demand where there is gross shortage. They also contribute to congestion on the roads and on public transport while requiring more social services to support them. That includes more police when in fact their numbers have been falling which is a contributor to the rising crime rate in London.

It’s surely time for the Mayor to change his spots, or for us to get a new Mayor who can adopt more rational policies.

Roger Lawson

The views expressed in this article on solely those of the author as applies to all our blog posts.

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Borough LIPs and new Facebook Page

London Boroughs have to produce a Transport Local Implementation Plan (LIP) in the next few months. These LIPs have to be consistent with the Mayor’s Transport Strategy or they might not get approved. This is one way that Mayor Sadiq Khan is forcing local boroughs to implement his policies and undermining local democracy.

Local boroughs not only know what is best for their area, but also what it is practical to achieve and what the residents and business will accept. But Transport for London (TfL) are dictating many aspects – for example they are giving specific targets for “modal shift” to each borough.

For example, in Lewisham their draft LIP proposes that 72% of journeys will be made by walking cycling and public transport by 2021 with a 3 to 5 percent reduction in traffic by the same date. By 2041 their target is a 15 to 20 percent reduction in traffic accompanied by a sharp reduction in car ownership. Many people would no doubt also like to see reduced traffic but such targets can only be achieved by draconian steps to change your lifestyle. Instead of improving the road transport network in Lewisham to reduce traffic congestion, their plan is basically to make life difficult for vehicle owners accompanied by such measures as road closures.

Draft LIPs are being issued and many are now open to public consultation. You need to respond to the LIP consultation in your local borough if we are to stop or delay many of the proposed measures. PLEASE DO SO NOW.

To find your local council’s draft LIP and the public consultation, simply search the web for the council’s name and the words “Local Implementation Plan”. Or go to your local council’s web site and search that.

The deadline for responses to public consultations on LIPs may be quite short so do check for its availability and respond as soon as possible. You might also wish to give your objections to aspects of the LIP to your local ward councillors.

Facebook Page Against the MTS

The ABD has created a new Facebook page dedicated to our campaign against the Mayor’s Transport Strategy. In addition to posting any news on the campaign on our ABD London Blog we will also post it on the new Facebook page so that Facebook users can easily pick it up. You can of course add your own comments to articles there.

The page is named “Against MTS” – see https://www.facebook.com/AgainstMTS/

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Sadiq Khan Exploiting Children Again

TFL-ToxicAir-2018-10-20.jpgThe photograph left of an advertisement from TfL, soon to appear in a bus shelter near you, is the latest example of TfL and the Mayor using children to promote his policies. He has done this repeatedly in the past. He calls London’s air “toxic” which is a gross exaggeration and suggests that air pollution is “mainly” caused by road vehicles. The latter statement is doubtful because it was 50% of NO2 in 2013 but has probably fallen since then – see the ABD’s recently published document that gives the real facts here: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/Air-Quality-and-Vehicles-The-Truth.pdf

I don’t think the Mayor of London should be using children to promote his policies which appear to be driven more by the desire for financial gain than concern for the environment. No doubt it makes for good photo-shoot opportunities with the national media but children should not be exploited in this way.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Sadiq Khan Popularity Falling Rapidly

According to a poll commissioned by Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) and published a week ago, London Mayor Sadig Khan’s popularity has dropped dramatically. In March 2017, he had a net positive satisfaction rating of +35 which is quite exceptional but that has disappeared. Overall the rating is still positive, but only just. Now only 44% think he is doing well versus 40% who say he is doing badly. The Mayor’s rating is now negative among working-class Londoners, the over-50s and those in Outer London.

What is the reason for this decline? It seems likely that the ABD’s campaign on the Mayor’s Transport policies (see https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/against-mts.htm ) is having an impact as we continue to deliver hundreds of thousands of leaflets across London. The Mayor’s policies such as the ULEZ will particularly affect those groups where his rating has been declining most sharply. Folks are waking up to the Mayor’s attack on all forms of private transport – not just cars but motorcycles, PHVs (minicabs) and taxis and the costs that they will incur as a result.

Other contributions have probably been his mismanagement of Transport for London’s budget which is heading for a massive deficit and has been focussed on by some politicians, and his record on tackling rising crime levels in London has also been criticised. Similarly, his record on housing is no better than his predecessor and very different to what he promised. His promise to freeze public transport fares and improve public transport which he made to get elected have been shown to be mistakes or unachievable. Surely the apt quotation here is “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time” (Abraham Lincoln). Voters are now becoming disillusioned with the Mayor as he is seen to be good at rhetoric and photoshoots with children but bad at actually managing the metropolis.

London needs a Mayor who does not just spout fine words, but can actually tackle London’s problems and get them solved.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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20 Mph Zones Are a Waste of Money, or Worse

The Sun Newspaper has reported on the success, or rather failure, of 20-mph wide area speed limits, to reduce accidents. They have obtained figures from 20 local councils using the Freedom of Information Act where £11 million of taxpayers’ cash was spent on the lower limit. But in some cases, rates of serious accidents (Killed and Serious Injuries – KSIs) have actually gone up they reported.

AA President said that the schemes were a “waste of money”, effectively implying that if the money had been spent on other road safety measures, more lives and serious accidents would have been saved.

Examples the Sun gave were Bath where £804,000 was spent but a 2016 report revealed that the KSI’s went up in 7 out of the 13 zones where speeds were cut, and in Manchester £1.7 million was spent on a heavily criticised scheme while in Hampshire other schemes showed no benefit in terms of accident reduction.

The ABD has of course reported similar problems before including in the City of London where a blanket 20 mph scheme has resulted in more minor injury reports.

20s Plenty founder Rod King called the articles “sloppy journalism” (one also appeared in the Daily Mail on the same subject). 20s Plenty has tried to debunk the reports of a number of local councils on their 20 mph schemes – for example they called the Bath report “biased, lacking in statistical rigour and not meeting several local authority duties on competency and equality”. But anyone who has surveyed all the evidence on such schemes will know that simply putting up signs typically reduces traffic speed by only 1 mph and that can have no significant impact on road casualties. In reality it seems to have the opposite effect in many cases as pedestrians no longer take so much care when crossing the road.

Rod King and 20s Plenty are like all fanatics – they ignore the negative impact of their policies and fail to see the truth. They are blinded in their zeal to reduce speed limits in the false presumption that reducing speeds are the answer to all road safety problems. But cutting road casualties is not as simple as that.

We still await a Government report on a more comprehensive study of 20 mph schemes.

In London, Transport for London (TfL) continue to finance such schemes in local boroughs and must have spent millions to date on them. Another example of unwise policies and reckless expenditure by TfL and Mayor Sadiq Khan, plus his predecessors. It is a great pity that money was not spent on road engineering to improve the safety of roads and junctions.

The Mayor actually wants to impose 20 mph speed limits on many major roads in London under his “Vision Zero” road safety plans. UKIP Transport Spokesperson Jill Seymour has challenged TfL to provide undisputed evidence of the justification for such proposals, as reported in the last national ABD Newsletter (OTR). She said “The authorities have strangled the main roads, and made them the most congested and slowest of any city in Europe. London is a mess when it comes to transport…..the London authorities, led by Sadiq Khan, appear to have a vendetta against personal transport and the car, and do everything they possibly can do to discriminate against it”. That’s definitely the truth of the matter.

Roger Lawson

Sun article here: https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/7253694/20-mph-zones-cause-more-deaths/

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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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