Just to emphasise how bad the transport infrastructure is in this country, and particularly in London, here are some recent comments from Lord Adonis, Chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission (a think-tank set up by the Government to advise it).
He said traffic speeds in London had fallen dramatically over the past five years and in much of the City were lower than in 1914. In addition, between 2012 and 2015, speeds on inner London roads fell by up to 9% (and that’s before the full impact of the Cycle Superhighways).
Another example is that overcrowding on rail services in London was up by 45% between 2011 and 2016.
He especially pressed the need to address “perhaps the most serious infrastructure failure of all” and reach a firm decision on expanding Heathrow Airport – an issue yet to be resolved 13 years after the initial statement of policy for a third runway.
He effectively suggested that without action the UK faced gridlock accompanied by worsening air quality and that “we’ve got to get real about tackling congestion and with it, air pollution….”.
Comment: There are two things that are required to solve these problems: a) Government commitment and real action rather than more debate; b) sensible plans that might improve matters rather than political gestures that talk about making “London’s streets places for active travel and social interaction….” which is the key foundation of Mayor Sadiq Khan’s London Transport Strategy. That has little to do with improving the transport network for the efficient movement of goods and people which is what it should really be for.
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Postscript: despite many of London’s infrastructure problem’s being caused by too many people in too small an area, compounded by a rapidly growing population, Mayor Sadiq Khan apparently wants to bring in even more people. He wrote an opinion piece for the Evening Standard last week that said not only that access from the EU should not be restricted after Brexit, but that “we also need to make it easier – not harder – to bring in talented people from outside Europe……” and he went on: “For us to prosper, we must continue to have barrier-free access to the European workforce”. This apparently contradicts even Labour party policy on immigration. But immigration might be better termed “migration” as in the same edition of the Standard, there was a report that there are now over 410,000 Romanians and Bulgarians in the UK, and from my experience a lot of them are driving Uber cabs in London.
Another interesting press report was on the undermining of public transport by services such as Uber and Lyft in the FT Magazine on 7/8/2017. It seems in some US cities, they are so cheap and convenient that bus services have difficulty competing. Some cities are actually using such services to provide “public” transport, while Lyft is offering a “shuttle” service in some locations (a fixed fare, fixed route trip in a shared vehicle). Now we know that TfL is facing a fall in bus usage. Is that because of rising competition from PHVs such as Uber? Is that why Uber is facing an attack on their licence?