Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum by Transport for London (TYP 38)

1.  SUMMARY

  London plays a pivotal role in the economic life and health of the UK economy as a whole. It is vital that London's transport network is modernised to meet the needs of Londoners and the UK.

  TfL and London are doing a lot to support delivery of the 10 Year Plan. The proposals in the Mayor's Transport Strategy and TfL's proposed Business Plan are compatible with the objectives and targets of the 10 Year Plan.

  However, for TfL and London to contribute entirely will require a full and fair share of funding. Both the Mayor's Transport Strategy and the proposed TfL Business Plan for 2002-03 to 2007-08 show that additional resources will be required over and above TfL's 10 Year Plan allocation.

2.  INTRODUCTION

  2.1  London is leading the way in transport improvement and development in many areas, and in best practice that has relevance to the overall national transport network. Transport for London (TfL) is a functional body of the GLA and reports to the Mayor. TfL's responsibilities include managing, providing and procuring bus services, light rail (Docklands Light Railway and Croydon Tramlink), 550 km of principal roads (the Transport for London Road Network, Dial-a-Ride, Victoria Coach State, London River Services, and the Woolwich Ferry. Through the Public Carriage Office it is responsible for licensing and regulating the taxi and private hire trade, and TfL provides funding for local transport improvements of the London Boroughs.

  2.2  In the first 18 months of existence, Transport for London has been able to make significant progress in several areas that contribute towards the 10 Year Plan's desired outcomes for London. The Mayor's Transport Strategy (published in July 2001) and the Business Plan that TfL is developing set out in detail the programme for improvements to transport within London, aiming to make a real difference to all those who work, live or visit the capital (the document considered by the TfL Board is available on the website at www.transportforlondon.gov.uk.

  2.3  Buses in London carry a third of all the bus passenger in the country, and the London Underground carries approximately the same number of passengers as the entire National Rail network. On National Rail nearly 70 per cent of all passenger journeys are in London and the South East. On these three modes in London (Buses, Underground and National Rail) there has been a growth in the number of passengers in recent years, particularly on buses with a 6 per cent rise in the last year alone. The 10 Year Plan acknowledges the scale and complexity of transport in London, and the role and importance of the capital within the wider UK economy.

  2.4  There are four particular areas that TfL wishes to bring to the Committee's attention that are relevant particularly to London but also to the UK as a whole.

    —  The proposed central London Congestion Charging Scheme, should it proceed, would be the largest scheme of its kind anywhere in the world, and our experience so far offers an insight into the question posed by the committee on congestion charging schemes.

    —  Our proposal for the creation of a Commuter Rail Authority for London, in order to overcome the barriers created by the current complexity of the organisation of the provision of rail services in London. There is a need for TfL to play a greater part in the process of franchising and development of the London rail network.

    —  London's bus services are a success story of growth in passenger numbers overall and particularly in certain areas or times of day in the past two year, which has relevance for the bus growth targets within the Plan.

    —  Our approach to walking, cycling and town centre improvements within London is being re-conceptualised, and this has relevance for the overall approach in the Plan on cycling and walking.

  2.5  Should the Committee wish us to give evidence in person as part of their Inquiry, either on these issues or on any other aspect of the 10 Year Plan, we would be happy to do so.

3.  CENTRAL LONDON CONGESTION CHARGING SCHEME

  3.1  Traffic congestion is a major problem in London. Drivers in central London can now expect to spend around a third of their journey time at a complete standstill, and for much of the rest of the journey travel at less than 10 mph. Congestion is harming London's businesses, threatens our competitive position internationally and is intruding into people's lives.

  3.2  The proposed central London Congestion Charging Scheme is the first of its kind, not just in London, but in any major World city. It will reduce congestion, reduce through traffic, encourage further use of public transport, and benefit businesses by speeding up journeys for goods, customers and staff. It is estimated that there will be substantial decreases in traffic: 10-15 per cent inside the charging zone, and 5 to 10 per cent on radial routes outside the charging zone. The Scheme will be accompanied by a wide range of measures designed to make public transport and other alternatives to car travel easier, cheaper, faster and more reliable. There is a programme of traffic management measure to implement the Schemes and to minimise any adverse effects. Consultation is presently being undertaken on revisions to the proposed Scheme, before the Mayor decides whether or not to proceed.

  3.3  Our experience so far in planning the Scheme and the results of the initial Scheme consultation may be invaluable to other local authorities that are considering whether or not to introduce congestion charging. The 10 Year Plan assumes that eight of the largest towns and cities will introduce congestion charging schemes during the period covered by the Plan. No other single measure can achieve the modal shift that congestion charging achieves.

  3.4  Any town or city considering congestion charging needs to consider the following:

    —  Exemptions and discounts are a sensitive issue. Following initial consultation on the proposed central London Congestion Charging Scheme, these have been amended to bring benefits to business and support community and health services. Scheme amendments out to consultation reflect these and include the charging hours ending at 6.30 pm not 7 pm.

    —  The ability to make significant improvements to public transport and the conditions for sustainable modes is essential—in London the regulated contracted bus services has enabled simpler fares and bus service expansion to be introduced already, and should the Scheme go ahead, will allow further improvements.

    —  The existing modal split—central London has a lower proportion of car use than almost any other city in the UK.

    —  The wider availability of technology that enables easier methods of payment of the daily charge, such as via the Internet and for fleet users. The proportion of people with access to the Internet is growing.

    —  Indirect benefits that can accrue—improvements such as the "World Squares" scheme to make Trafalgar Square a more liveable and attractive open space are planned; these are easier to introduce with the reduced traffic levels that are estimated to result from congestion charging.

4.  TFL'S PROPOSAL FOR A COMMUTER RAIL AUTHORITY FOR LONDON

  4.1  The rail industry structure is fragmented and in a London context includes nineteen different rail franchise Train Operating Companies, the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA), London Underground, and Railtrack (currently in administration). Passengers are experiencing worsening levels of punctuality and reliability on National Rail services, and continued and worsening peak-hour overcrowding. National Rail services are an important means of travel to work in central London—in 2000 over 465,000 people travelled into central London in the morning peak using National Rail for part or all of their journey (about half of all commuters).

  4.2  Apart from the multi-modal Travelcard there is no common fares structures, and the services are not marketed and promoted as a "network" in the way that London Underground or the London Buses' network is. Compared with the Underground, Docklands Light Railway and most bus services, evening and Sunday frequencies are generally lower on National Rail: this particularly affects South London.

  4.3  The SRA have suggested that to meet the 10 Year Plan targets must mean focusing on South England (including London), given the limits to available funding. TfL will be reviewing the SRA's Strategic Plan (to be published on 14 January) to ensure that it is consistent in London with the 10 Year Plan targets of 50 per cent growth in passenger demand and 80 per cent growth in freight, and that it reflects the requirements of the Mayor's Transport Strategy. There is a need for large scale investment to greatly expand network capacity for both passenger services (such as through the proposed Crossrail lines 1 and 2) and for freight (additional rail freight and multi-modal facilities are needed).

  4.4  TfL proposes the creation of a Commuter Rail Authority to manage, control and direct rail transport in London and the South East. The ultimate goal of this authority would be a properly run, integrated urban railway for London, in the context of economic growth and spatial development for London. The authority's responsibilities might include:

    —  Specifying services levels and performance.

    —  Determining a simpler and more effective franchise structure for London commuter rail services.

    —  Owning the rail infrastructure in respect of inheritance of major projects.

    —  Investment in new stations.

    —  An integrated service with common fares marketed as one system, complementing TfL's other transport services.

    —  Developing an agreed policy on rail freight to and through London.

  4.5  TfL believes that a Commuter Rail Authority can deliver a better service for passengers than the existing structure. Benefits include the achievement of greater integration, a key part of the Government's overall transport policy. There is a need to bring a strategic London Focus to rail development in London and the South East, and to progress that focus through the complex structure of the industry.

  4.6  The current organisational structure for rail transport in London, whilst an improvement over the previous arrangements, is still lacking in continuity of control. The recently established model for Crossrail of a joint venture company underlines the desirability of an improved form of co-operative working between TfL and the SRA, reflecting a holistic measure of control and providing clear project direction. Therefore, whilst the establishment of a Commuter Rail Authority is the ideal structure, in the short term TfL believes in moving towards co-operative working with the SRA, particularly on refranchising.

5.  BUS SERVICES GROWTH TARGETS

  5.1  London's bus services have been a success story in recent years, with patronage now at its highest level since 1975 and service levels at their highest since 1967. In the past six years bus passenger journeys have risen by 16 per cent, with growth in certain areas and at certain times of day even higher, reflecting the changing nature of society and the economy. Bus commuting into central London has risen by 25 per cent over the past two years, and Night Bus network patronage by 50 per cent in last five years. There have also been an increase in the average length of bus journeys, in part reflecting the growth in commuting by bus to central London and on Night Buses.

  5.2  The 10 Year Plan has a national target of 10 per cent increase in bus use over the plan period to 2010, over and above 2000 levels. The Mayor's Transport Strategy outlines a programme of bus improvements that will achieve 40 per cent growth in bus use, so that London Buses, on its own will meet the national growth target of 10 per cent, even if there is no growth in bus use outside London. Our current estimate is that by 2003-04 there will be over 1500 million passenger journeys on London Buses, assuming indicated growth in levels of funding needed to support the TfL Business Plan, a 15 per cent rise over 2000 levels.

  5.3  London's bus service is planned on four principles—a comprehensive, frequent, simple and reliable network. The expansion plans that TfL have follow this, and support the proposed Congestion Charging Scheme with new services, frequency enhancements on existing routes, and the use of larger vehicles. New low-floor accessible buses will continue to enter service via the bus tendering system, and by 2004-05 all bus services (apart from Routemaster operated services) will be provided with accessible buses. The simpler fare structure introduced in 2000, and subsequent bus pass price reductions and simplification will continue.

  To help continue bus passenger growth, bus journey times and delays need to be reduced through properly enforced bus priority measures: through the London Bus Initiative and other bus priority schemes TfL's Business Plan is seeking to achieve this. This will contribute towards the overall target of 10 per cent reduction in average bus journey times that is within the London section of the 10 Year Plan.

  We suggest account is taken of the developments in bus services since the 10 Year Plan was published, particularly the growth of bus service use in London.

6.  WALKING AND CYCLING

  6.1  In the 10 Year Plan the role of cycling and walking as means of transport and issues such as safety concerns are acknowledged. There are challenging targets for 2010 of trebling cycling and reducing the number of road collision casualties, particularly for children. Our Business Plan recognises the need to improve conditions for walking and cycling, and London's Road Safety Plan includes specific targets related to pedestrian and cyclists in addition to the National Road Safety Targets.

  6.2  We are currently re-evaluating our approach to walking and cycling, together with our overall approach to improving conditions in town centres and in residential areas. A flagship programme of measures to improve conditions for walking and cycling and in town centres and residential improvements aim to make real improvements. We are concerned that resources have, in the past, been used not as effectively as possible, on measures that do not provide real benefits. This must change. We must focus resources on measures that will lead to more people meeting their travel needs on foot and by bicycle. We have established a Cycling Centre of Excellence and appointed a "Walking Champion" to have the best knowledge and expertise available in these areas.

  6.3  We feel it is essential that the 10 Year Plan continues to recognise the importance of cycling and walking as sustainable transport modes, and the need to ensure that the emphasis of improvement measures is on outcomes not inputs.

7.  CONCLUSIONS

  London plays a pivotal role in the economic life and health of the UK economy as a whole. It is vital that London's transport network is modernised to meet the needs of Londoners and the UK.

  TfL and London are doing a lot to support delivery of the 10 Year Plan. The proposals in the Mayor's Transport Strategy and TfL's proposed Business Plan are compatible with the objectives and targets of the 10 Year Plan.

  However, for TfL and London to contribute entirely will require a full and fair share of funding. Both the Mayor's Transport Strategy and the proposed TfL Business Plan for 2002-03 to 2007-08 show that additional resources will be required over and above TfL's 10 Year Plan allocation.



 
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