My personal reaction to Transport for London s new draft ten year business plan draft was to play five gears in reverse. That was fun, but it isn t quite as straight backwards as that. Doubling spending on roads while confirming inflation-plus hikes in public transport fares seems the wrong way round to me and, well, actually is, but now let s take a closer look.
Public Transport fare hikes but airport taxi rates unchanged. Firstly, the fares hike part is, as always, an automatic financial assumption on which the wider plan is based. That s not the same as saying it s going to happen.
In other words, things could change for the better especially if and when we get a mayor with better priorities. But it probably will happen. Secondly, there s no automatic opposition between improving London s transport networks and having better roads.
Bicycles and buses run on those as well as trucks, vans and cars, so if we re big on bikes and buses, good roads are a good thing for us too. The issue is who gets to use how much of those roads and how. In his intro, the mayor writes: I reject the old-fashioned notion that roads will always be a place of conflict between different road users.
A civilized road is not one that is completely free of traffic. An economically efficient road is not one full of speeding vehicles. What s he on about?
Does he even know himself? My conjecture is that he s saying we can have the best of all worlds if we just carry on the way we are. Oh no we can t, and GoodoldBoris surely knows it.
Road congestion affects Heathrow transfer times. Johnson s own transport strategy acknowledges the inefficiency costs of traffic jams and examines the potential for greater rationing of road space through congestion charging. the mayor s acknowledged more than once that road pricing is in line with solid, right-wing economic principles.
The road freight business is receptive, smart new forms of technology exist. Redesigned junctions and brainier traffic lights are all well and good, but what London s road network really needs is mayor who believes in market forces, like that horrid lefty Ken Livingstone did. As TfL s most recent Travel in London tome confirms, there s been a shift away from private car use and towards public transport going on for years.
Especially in outer London where most car journeys are made. Meanwhile, bicycle use keeps creeping up in spite of all the reasons why many people don t fancy it much (fear of injury, fear of death and fear of having to worry about it getting nicked). We should be going with the flow, not trying to turn back time.
The mayor has set upa task force which will report to him in the spring, fully mindful that the city s population is soaring. The task force s membership suggests that further congestion charging will get discussed, but so will creating more roads and sticking them in tunnels. The point is not to hate roads but to regulate and run them in the interests of London s economy, its transport budgets, its environment and the bulk of its users, along with those of pedestrians.
The beautiful thing is that these interests are substantially aligned. The sad thing is that this happy truth scares most London politicians half to death. Airport Direct offers seamless and economical Airport Transfers.
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London Transport Plan | Airport Direct