London TravelWatch: end minicab exemption from congestion charge

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London’s passenger watchdog, TravelWatch, has branded plans to keep bus speeds lower than they were five years ago ‘unacceptable’ and demanded that Transport for London (TfL) reconsiders its stance.

The statement came after TfL’s Finance Committee approved a five year plan forecasting bus speeds of 9.2mph, 5% lower than in 2013.

London TravelWatch set out a number of changes it claims would increase speeds and help stop the decline in passenger numbers. The body’s proposals include extending the operating hours of Red Routes, including making some 24/7, increasing the hours the congestion charge operates each day and scrapping minicabs’ exemption from the charge.

It claimed such moves could help reduce traffic levels in central London, helping to boost journey times for bus passengers and make public transport more attractive.

Arthur Leathley, Chair of London TravelWatch, said: “Over the last few years there has been an unprecedented drop in bus patronage linked to declining bus speeds. Despite this, TfL’s newly approved Business Plan is forecasting slow speeds for the next five years. This is unacceptable.

“We will be writing to the Transport Commissioner to demand that much more action is taken by TfL to improve the performance of bus services in London and get their speeds back up to at least the level they were in 2013/14.

“We have previously suggested a number of measures that could be implemented, some of them can be done very quickly and simply to improve bus speeds.”