Buses could be banned from Oxford Street

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Vehicles could instead be routed down parallel streets as Crossrail arrival approaches

London transport bosses are considering an Oxford Street bus ban for the first time to help clean up the air on Britain’s most polluted road, the London Standard has reported.

Transport Commissioner Sir Peter Hendy said the arrival of Crossrail in 2018 was a ‘game-changer’ for the West End that allowed him to consider the previously unthinkeable. He said: ”For years we’ve been accused of being dog in the manger about buses on Oxford Street, now we are in a completely different place.

“We are looking at all the options and we will countenance taking all the buses out. We wouldn’t rule anything out.”

Currently around 270 buses an hour travel down Oxford Street. The street reportedly has the world’s highest recorded concentrations of the harmful gas nitrogen dioxide (NO2). The arrival of Crossrail will usher in a 10 trains an hour service calling at Bond Street and Tottenham Court Road, which is expected to substantially cut bus travel into the West End from areas such as Paddington and Farringdon, which are served by new stations.

Sir Peter said that as a result, the numbers of buses could be heavily reduced and the route changed to avoid Oxford Street altogether using parallel streets such as Wigmore Street.

He said: “The services won’t disappear. There are quarter of a million people who go by bus every day to work and we’ve got to find some way for them to travel.

“If you’ve got a cleaning job at John Lewis and live in Willesden you don’t want me to be leaving you at Marble Arch. But you might be happy if we take you close but not right there.

”It’s not like it’s without issues because there are the people living on Wigmore Street to take into account. But we’re prepared to look at that because there is now a bold plan for the West End.

“It’s is the first time we’ve been prepared to contemplate it, we’ve not had the context in which to do it before. It’s all part of a feeling that it’s time to do something big and we ought as a transport authority to do our part.”

A TfL spokesman told CBW that the body is looking at all options as to what it may do and that a wider consideration of the issues around Oxford Street has been made possible by the imminent arrival of Crossrail. Other options being looked at include making Oxford Street one way for buses to speed up journey times and increasing the number of places for pedestrians to cross the road.