Time to act on London’s falling bus speeds, says watchdog

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Transport for London (TfL)’s 2019/20 business plan, published last month, has attracted criticism from capital transport watchdog London TravelWatch.

Performance forecasts published in the report predict that the average speed of buses in the city will fall from today’s 9.2 mph figure to 9 mph by 2021/22, and level out.

The forecasts also suggest that annual passenger journeys will fall from 2.203m in 2018/19 to 2.034m by 2023/24.

London TravelWatch Chair, Arthur Leathley, said of the figures: “TfL’s latest business plan makes really depressing reading for London’s beleaguered bus passengers.

“The previous business plan suggested that bus journey times would not recover from their recent decline.

This plan shows bus journey times getting even longer.

“Combine this with the cuts to services that are being consulted on and it is easy to see why bus passengers are abandoning their services.

“However, for many passengers there is not a choice and they will have to continue to use slow services and suffer the inconvenience. This is dreadful news.

In order to combat the issue, London TravelWatch has devised a ‘blueprint’ for better bus speeds. This includes:
Longer operational hours for the Red Routes – some should be 24/7;

A review of parking, waiting loading and bus lane operational hours along bus routes by the London boroughs;

A review of discounts and exemptions from congestion charging – PHVs should no longer be exempt and residents discounts could be reduced; and

Longer operation of the congestion charging zone – for example, between 0600hrs and 2200hrs Monday to Sunday.

Arthur continued: “London TravelWatch has previously demanded that TfL prioritise bus services on all the roads they use.

“We are told that measures are being taken, but too little is happening.

“We will be raising this issue at our Board meeting in January with TfL’s Managing Director of Surface Transport, Gareth Powell.”