The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act is Now Law

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts (PCSC) Act is now law as it has received Royal Assent. This Act includes the strengthening of police powers to tackle non-violent protests that have a significant disruptive effect on the public or on access to Parliament. For example demonstrations by such groups as Extinction Rebellion have closed roads, delayed emergency services and incurred millions of pounds in costs to the police. They have also been exceedingly noisy in some cases thus creating disruption and annoyance over a wide area.

The new Act does not stop peaceful demonstrations but it will hamper the activities of extremist organisations who wish to grab attention to their cause by creating disruption. It is surely therefore a positive move to clarify and reinforce the law in this area.

There are many aspects of criminal law tidied up in this Act but one negative aspect is Clause 67 of the Bill which provides a statutory footing for the charging of fees for courses offered as an alternative to prosecution for fixed penalty offences. It gives the police discretion to offer an educational course to a motorist who has committed a low-level driving offence. This is as an alternative to a fixed penalty or prosecution and avoids liability to a criminal conviction, penalty points and higher fine.

As we have pointed out this for the first time makes it legal for the police to solicit a payment to waive prosecution and can be used by the police to raise funds – for example to generate more offences by financing more speed cameras. See https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/speed-awareness-courses.htm for more information.

The new Act also increases the maximum sentence for the offences of causing death by dangerous driving and causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink or drugs to a life sentence. There is also the creation of a new offence of causing serious injury by careless, or inconsiderate, driving. The offence is committed if a person causes serious injury by driving a car or other mechanically propelled vehicle on a road or other public place without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other road users. But the drafting is ambiguous. What is meant by “serious injury” and it could mean that a simple driving error can result in someone being sentenced to a custodial sentence.

These changes are unprincipled in nature and should not have been made.

Government explanation of the Act: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/police-crime-sentencing-and-courts-bill-2021-factsheets/police-crime-sentencing-and-courts-bill-2021-protest-powers-factsheet

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Pedicabs/Rickshaws to be Regulated

Grant Shapps, Transport Minister, has announced that he intends to introduce regulations for pedicabs, otherwise known as rickshaws. At present they are not regulated at all and local councils have no powers to impose regulations on them – for example in the interests of road safety, the safety of passengers or to avoid a public nuisance. 

They are a big problem in some parts of London, particularly in the evening.

Mr Shapps said in Parliament that “There isn’t any legislation which accurately enables any type of licensing or regulation. It’s time – it’s high time – I know Parliament has expressed interest through a series backbench bills that for one reason or another…have not proceeded through Parliament. We will do that on Government time in the Transport Bill”.

Comment: some system of licensing is surely required and it would be a good idea to extend that to all pedal cyclists. There was a time when most cyclists used to adhere to the Highway Code but now they tend to cycle through red lights and if they are involved in an accident they just walk away knowing they cannot be traced. All users of vehicles on our roads should be traceable and insured. I would even extend it to the users of e-scooters which are proving to be positively hazardous for pedestrians with numerous reports of personal injury accidents involving them. There is very obviously a great deal of infringement of the current regulations that should stop e-scooters being used on pavements or even on roads unless they are rented as part of a regulated trial. The law is being blatantly ignored.

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How To Vote in the May Council Elections

The elections for Councillors in London are on May the 5th and I hope you will vote. There is typically a low turnout in local elections so those elected can be unrepresentative of the views of the electorate.

Another problem is that people often vote on national party lines when it is local councillors who make the decisions that affect you directly in your local borough. They also have a big influence on the level of Council Tax that you pay and there is a big variation between different boroughs in London depending on how well the local council manages their finances and the decisions taken by Councillors. It is therefore important that you select the best people to be Councillors.

Another issue to consider is whether Councillors will represent your views and actually respond when you raise an issue with them. A good example of what can go wrong is when Councillors stand for election because they want to save the world from global warming or wish to attack the national Government over its handling of the economy and the price of energy. Councillors have no influence over those matters.

The worst Councillors are those who ignore the views of the public and think they know best. One of the contentious issues in many London boroughs is that over Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs). In several London boroughs where there has been strong opposition to LTNs, it is very clear from survey responses and consultations that most people oppose the LTNs. But Labour Councillors have frequently refused to listen.

Legal challenges to LTNs have been shown to be exceedingly difficult so the only way to get some changes is to vote out the Councillors who supported them!

Who to vote for instead? Only the Conservative Party have made a clear commitment to remove the LTNs in boroughs such as Lewisham and Lambeth. The Liberal Democrats stance is more nuanced and varies from borough to borough.

Labour might win the Council seats simply because the opposition votes are split between the other parties and the few independent candidates. So I would suggest some tactical voting is required, i.e. vote for the candidates that are most likely to gain election and who have policies that you generally agree with.

But try to speak to your local ward councillors (and to the Mayoral candidates in those boroughs who have a directly elected Mayor). Or of course look at their manifestos which you can usually find easily on the web. Particularly look at how interested they are in keeping the road network moving as opposed to spouting dogma about climate emergencies.

But do make sure you vote!

Roger Lawson

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Transport for London Quarterly Performance Report – Clearly a Financial Basket Case

Transport for London (TfL) have published their quarterly performance report. It covers the quarter to 11 December 2021 and gives some useful information on the slow recovery in passenger numbers from the pandemic lows.

In Q3 demand plateaued however and is still only 68% of pre-pandemic levels. But to really get a good picture of how TfL is a total financial basket case you only have to jump to the Appendix. That shows that the “Net Cost of Services” is £2,267 million (i.e. £2.3 billion of costs more than income) for the quarter. This deficit is only made up by £3.4 billion of “Grant income” no doubt mainly from central Government.

Indeed the Chief Financial Officer clearly thinks that he is doing a great job because he says “we are performing better than budget” while staff numbers have actually increased despite passenger numbers falling.

Somebody asked me recently how much London buses were subsidised. I did not know the immediate answer although the last time I looked at this it was an enormous figure. But this report gives you guidance on it. The Appendix reports that for the Operating Segment of “Buses, streets and other operations” there is a deficit of £754 million for the quarter and that probably includes the income from the Congestion and ULEZ charges.

It is clear that TfL are still relying on enormous Government bail-outs to stay afloat and that shows no signs of changing.

Roger Lawson

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Yet More Clamour Over a Minor Accident in Chislehurst

It has been reported that a pedestrian was hit by a bus at or near the war memorial junction in Chislehurst on the 8th April at 10.35 pm. This would appear to be an incident that will be classified as a “minor injury”. It has prompted renewed calls for a pedestrian phase at these lights which has been used as part of a political attack on the Bromley Council Conservative administration who recently rejected a petition on this subject.

It would be wrong to jump to conclusions over the cause of this incident until the full facts are known, but it’s worth pointing out that accidents late at night to pedestrians are often the results of alcohol consumption.

But let’s look at this issue rationally rather than emotionally.

Firstly is this location a particularly accident black spot? One can review that by looking at the Crashmap web site ( https://www.crashmap.co.uk/Search ) where you can easily see all the accidents in the area in the last few years. There are hundreds, and the nearby Chislehurst High Street is clearly an even worse problem area despite the fact that it has several pedestrian crossings which unfortunately many pedestrians ignore and choose to cross elsewhere. The same issue also arises at the War Memorial junction if you review details of the incidents at or nearby.

One of the key principles when deciding whether to spend money on road safety measures is to look at the cost/benefit ratio and where the most benefit can be obtained. There are limited funds available for road safety projects so the money needs to be spent where it can be most effectively deployed.

Looking at the past accident data is much better than relying on often ill-informed opinions on where the most danger lies. The number of minor accidents is a good pointer as large numbers indicate there is high risk of more serious injuries or fatalities (KSIs). KSIs have much higher values attached to them however you care to value them, but large numbers of minor accidents can point to where road safety budgets should be spent.

So people concerned with road safety should look at the statistical data on past accidents which they can easily do and you can obtain details of police reports on accidents (STATS19 reports) by using Freedom of Information Act requests. These provide a lot of information on the causes of accidents.

We don’t need to guess at the causes of accidents or where money should best be spent. You can estimate the benefit of introducing a pedestrian crossing for example, as against the cost; and compare it with the benefit of spending the money elsewhere. You can also calculate the possible disbenefit if traffic is delayed by a new crossing, or diverted onto minor roads.

That is what sensible councils like Bromley do. The unwise ones instead react to political clamour for simplistic solutions and as a result waste a lot of money on ineffectual solutions. You can see that in London boroughs such as Lewisham and Croydon where wide area 20 mph speed limits and speed humps everywhere have been installed at enormous cost and where the result has been a worse road safety improvement record than Bromley. Money has been wasted on ineffective solutions.

Bromley used to suffer from the busybody syndrome 20 years ago before I got involved in road safety issues. People who thought they knew best when they knew little about the science and failed to study the data.

We certainly do not want that scenario back again when money was wasted on ineffective schemes (such as the speed humps on Watts Lane/Manor Park Road).

Ignoring the advice of council officers is another failing of the busybodies. Good ones have both training and experience and should not be ignored unless there are very good reasons.

In summary, road safety decisions should not be made by amateurs, or uneducated grandstanding politicians, who have not looked at the statistical data or the causes of accidents and who are ignoring the wider implications of their decisions.

Roger Lawson

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How Many Objections in Lewisham to the LTN?

Back in November 2020 we submitted a request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) to obtain the number of objections received by the Council or Councillors to the Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) schemes in Lewisham. Their response after a long delay was that they did not have that information.

We appealed to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and have just received a final decision. The ICO have concluded that the Council breached regulations 5(2) and 14(1) of the EIR by failing to respond within 20 working days and failing to advise that it was relying on regulation 12(4)(b). But they agreed that it was too burdensome a request.  

The FOI Act can be a useful piece of legislation but not when Councils deliberately frustrate or delay answering reasonable questions.

It’s taken so long (eighteen months) to get to this point that the information requested is now somewhat irrelevant so we won’t be pursuing a further appeal. But one item of data obtained as a result was that Louise McBride (Head of Highways and Transport at the Council) alone received 1,040 emails on the subject.

That contradicted a minute of a Council Meeting on the 25th January 2022 where it was stated that Cabinet Member Patrick Codd reported that the Council received approximately 150 emails about the experimental introduction of the LTNs. That was clearly inaccurate and Councillor Codd is arranging for the minute to be corrected.

These events show how Lewisham Council is incompetent in many ways. They failed to record objections in any useful way despite the Lee Green LTN being an “experimental” scheme. I have requested that they at least count the objections to the Permanent LTN properly.

If you have not yet sent in objections to the Lewisham and Lee Green LTN, please use this template email or letter below (simply copy and paste it but modify it as you see fit):

Send to: ParkingDesign@lewisham.gov.uk (or post to Lewisham Transport Policy & Development, 5th Floor Laurence House, 1 Catford Road, London SE6 4RU)

Objection Letter:

Re: Statement of Objections to Traffic Order 4030579

I am writing to object to the proposed Traffic Order 4030579 published on the 25th March 2022 made by the London borough of Lewisham (“Lewisham”) concerning the Lewisham and Lee Green Low Traffic Neighbourhood.

Grounds for Objection

I dispute whether the experimental scheme which is now proposed to be made permanent has actually reduced the volume of traffic (rather than just displaced it). There is no evidence that it has done so during the period of the experimental traffic orders other than within the LTN alone where roads were closed while traffic flows on boundary roads have increased. Neither has it had any impact on overall levels of air pollution as is clear from the evidence in the Monitoring Data Summary published by the council but residents have reported large increases on boundary roads.

One of the objectives was apparently to mitigate the impact of emissions on climate change but there is no way that actions in Lewisham will have any impact on climate change which is driven by major global factors. Any impact from actions in Lewisham will be trivial.    

The effect of the scheme has been highly detrimental for the local community as a whole but especially detrimental for people from protected groups defined in the Equality Act 2010. The proposed mitigation measures do not address the intrinsic flaws in the scheme, which have been readily apparent for the entire duration of the scheme.

In short, the scheme displaces traffic on to certain “strategic” and certain other roads without proper consideration of the consequences. Specifically, the impact on those who are car-dependent and those who are dependent upon visitors (e.g. those who receive social care) are disregarded. Moreover, the gridlock and traffic congestion the scheme has created has had indirect effects on many.

1. The Scheme

The scheme restricts traffic from using certain roads at certain times and prevents traffic using routes that have historically been available. This concentrates traffic onto other roads, increases congestion and acts as a barrier, making it much harder to traverse across the borough, and in particular north to south Lewisham and vice versa. The Blackheath, Lee and Hither Green community was previously a completely holistic one but has now been cut in half by the imposition of a physical barrier to all motorised traffic in the heart of the area.

2. The Public Consultation

The public consultation with local residents had numerous flaws and is therefore unlikely to represent the true extent of the local community’s aversion to the scheme.

The Report on the consultation ignores the views expressed in response to the public consultation, the objections received to the Temporary Traffic Orders and the 12,000 signature petition which was submitted to the Council (from Change.org).

Councillor Patrick Codd is reported as saying: “We believe the LTN is meeting its aims…..” while Mayor Damien Egan said “The world is facing a climate emergency and we urgently need to do more to improve air quality in London” but he seems to have ignored the evidence in the report that air quality is already massively improved and will continue to be so (NO2 concentrations at roadsides have fallen by 42% since 2014).

The Report repeats the false allegation that traffic on local roads in London has increased by 60% since 2009 which is contradicted by the latest TfL report on Travel in London – see this blog post: https://freedomfordrivers.blog/2022/01/05/travel-in-london-report-mayors-objectives-not-met/   

The LTN was introduced urgently and without prior consultation as a measure to help social distancing during the pandemic. The Council’s report says “The primary aim was to encourage people to walk and cycle more, and to do so safely…..” (see para. 5.2). But did it? The evidence is not clear particularly as travel patterns changed as a result of the pandemic (see the TfL report above for evidence of how travel was reduced or changed in London). Closure of schools and businesses with more working from home were the main factors.

The Council received 7,065 responses to the public consultation on the LTN. Some 56% of respondents felt negatively about the revised LTN, as opposed to 44% who felt positively or neutral. That’s a clear majority against the current road closures which Councillors have ignored in an anti-democratic fashion. It is unfortunately the case that councillors and council officers once they have taken a dogmatic position, in this case that “deterring the use of vehicles is good for the planet”, they rarely want to change their minds despite the contrary evidence of the negative side effects.

In this case the road closures have increased journey times for many people, increased air pollution on boundary roads and obstructed emergency service vehicles. The conversion to ANPR enforcement will avoid the latter problem but has already resulted in many accidental fines so we do not consider that a sensible solution and it is clearly being motivated by the financial benefit obtained. That is unfair and unreasonable.

The Report comments on the Equalities Impact Assessment but simply ignores the negative consequences of the impact on disabled people who rely on motor vehicles. The Report also ignores the obligations of the Council under the Traffic Management Act 2004.

Although the latest LTN is an improvement on the original version it will still cause many problems. For example the closure of Upwood Road, Manor Lane, Manor Lane Terrace and Manor Park might deter through traffic but will also cause enormous inconvenience to local residents or their visitors who will have to take very circuitous routes. People badly affected by the closures are being ignored.

3. The impact of the scheme on main roads

There can be no doubt that the scheme has displaced substantial traffic onto roads which simply cannot bear the volume of traffic forced on them. This has had a severe impact on local residents and particularly the groups identified above.

4. The day-to-day impact of the scheme

The day-to day impacts to local residents have been overwhelming and are not limited to those outlined below;

5. Impact on certain groups

The Public Consultation confirms that the “overwhelming majority” of people from protected groups oppose the scheme. We strongly believe, and the evidence shows, that, despite this clear opposition, the needs of particular groups have not been adequately thought about and the scheme actually exacerbates challenges for these groups rather than removes them.

Car use is often essential for older and disabled people; and for those who are dependent upon their car it needs to be available at all times to ensure that they can visit urgent health appointments and live independently.

Many have attempted to eliminate their private car use, but the only potentially affordable alternative is taxis or minicabs (PHVs). However, as a result of the scheme, some residents are reporting that taxis and minicabs are struggling or refusing to access streets within the scheme.

The other alternative to private car use, buses, are slower and unreliable plus difficult to use for people with mobility problems meaning that older people do not feel that this is a viable alternative.

For many older people, cycling and walking extended distances are simply not viable.

Access to visitors who travel by car, such as community nurses, social care staff, pharmacists and GPs, is equally essential. Similarly, these health and social care professionals need to be available at all times to provide care and deliver prescriptions.

Cumulatively, older people describe the impact as severe; as well as the obvious health impacts caused by struggling to access services, they spoke of being kettled-in or cut-off from their friends and family.

Accessing school for disabled children has become exceptionally difficult with journeys that should take a maximum of 15 minutes now taking 45 minutes.

The consideration of those who are car-dependent has been wholly unsatisfactory.

Given that Lewisham is required to think about the impact of these schemes on protected groups and remove obstacles that prevent protected groups participating in society, Lewisham has failed to meet its duty since it has failed to make any effective mitigation for those who are largely or wholly car-dependent and whose mobility has been drastically reduced or removed by this scheme. Cumulatively, the scheme exacerbates obstacles for protected groups rather than removing them. These obvious disadvantages, explained in exacting detail in the Public Consultation, and Lewisham’s own Equality Impact Assessment, are completely discounted.

6. Add a statement about how you personally have been inconvenienced by this scheme:

7. Conclusion

For the reasons set out above, I object to Traffic Orders 4030579 in the strongest possible terms and ask that you reverse your decision to make the Lewisham and Lee Green Low Traffic Neighbourhood permanent given the impact on local residents, local businesses and, in particular, those in protected groups. I urge Lewisham to recognise that this experiment has thus far failed and to show its courage by not ploughing on with an obviously divisive, detrimental and unsuccessful scheme that fails to fulfil its aims.

Yours faithfully

(Name)

(Address)

<END>

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Petition Against ULEZ Expansion

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, intends to expand the ULEZ scheme to the whole of London next year. At least he will unless there is strong opposition to it.

A good petition against it has been raised – see https://chng.it/c9xbC5fWTC . Please sign it!

An expanded ULEZ will mean drivers in outer London will need to pay £12.50 per day every day of the year if they drive an older vehicle. But there is simply no justification on environmental grounds. It will make very little difference to air pollution.

The Mayor is just scaremongering in the interest of raising taxes to help pay for his financial mismanagement of TfL.

Anyone directly affected by these proposals should also write to their Member of Parliament because only the Government can stop Sadiq Khan pursuing these damaging policies. See https://www.parliament.uk/get-involved/contact-an-mp-or-lord/contact-your-mp/

BUT DO MAKE SURE YOU SIGN THE PETITION!

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Improving Our Campaign

The Freedom for Drivers Foundation has been operating in one form or another for many years. During that period the attacks on the use of private cars have steadily increased. The Covid pandemic has been used to accelerate the trend to close roads, reduce road space and introduce more restrictions on your freedom of movement. This has to be opposed!

That’s not just the case in London which was the initial focus of our activities but across the country more recently.

We now need to improve our communications to supporters and the wider public. A number of steps are proposed:

1. We are improving our social media presence. We already have an active blog which gives you the latest news which might affect you as a driver and which is here: https://freedomfordrivers.blog/ . You can now register to “follow” that blog and receive an email of new updates by entering your email address in the box at the foot of any of the recent blog posts.

2. We also have an active Twitter account (see @Drivers_London ) where news and comments are posted.

3. If you don’t wish to see news almost every day by using the above, then we have a condensed newsletter which is issued every couple of months. It is sent out by email as a pdf document for easy reading. You can register to receive that on this web page: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/register.htm

4. We also have a Facebook page which is focused on the London Mayor’s Transport Strategy – see https://www.facebook.com/AgainstMTS . It is proposed to expand our coverage to other regions by setting up other Facebook pages.

5. The Freedom for Drivers Foundation web site (see  https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/index.htm) was originally developed many years ago by me and more recently has been maintained using the WebPlus software. That software is no longer supported by the supplier and the web site is not easy to use on a mobile device. The site needs redeveloping in a new software platform such as Wix.

All of the above, particularly the redevelopment of the web site, is beyond my personal capabilities as I simply do not have the time to do it. In essence we need some funding to do that and also to expand our marketing so as to spread awareness of our organisation.

In summary this is a call for more funding to enable this organisation to improve on what we have been doing and expand our contact base. We already have several thousand email contacts, mainly in the London area. But we need to reach tens of thousands across the whole country to have an effective voice to counter those who oppose the use of private cars.

This requires money so please donate as much as you can by going to this web page: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/donate.htm

Don’t delay – help me to grow the organisation by donating! But also sign up to receive our newsletters and to follow our blog if you are not already doing so.

Roger Lawson   

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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London Congestion Charging is a Disaster

New York has been considering a congestion charge for some years, but it has always been opposed by surrounding boroughs. A good article in the New York Times (see link below), spells out why it should not happen in an article which is headlined “Congestion pricing is coming to NYC — though London shows it’s a disaster”.

This is some of what the article, written by Joe Borelli, minority leader of the New York City Council, says:

“Before Gov. Kathy Hochul and the Legislature smack us with this new tax, they may want to check whether it actually works.

Will it deliver on its promise to greatly reduce traffic congestion, improve air quality and address transit-revenue gaps?

If you ask Londoners, certainly not.

The city’s traffic scheme has not lived up to the hype, and now London is not only the most congested city in the United Kingdom, it is the most congested city in the world.

In 2021, London drivers lost an average of 148 hours to congestion, costing $1,211 per driver, as it topped the most recent Global Traffic Scorecard compiled by INRIX, a leading transportation-analytics firm. (If you’re wondering, New York City is only the fifth-most congested city, just below Moscow.)

This study isn’t an outlier. Pre-COVID London was ranked among the worst traffic cities by the TomTom Traffic Index, “out-trafficking” crowded cities like Shenzhen and Kuala Lumpur. An earlier 2019 Inrix traffic analysis further confirms London has more congestion than New York. Imagine that — the Empire State, the Big Apple taking their cue from a city whose solution is worse than our problem. Bollocks!

Despite London’s ballyhooed congestion charge, it’s planning a massive restructuring. The CO2 from all the idling cars clogging the capital have spurred Mayor Sadiq Khan to propose scrapping the current £15 ($20) fee system altogether in favor of an entirely new scheme in which all London drivers would incur an initial surcharge and pay an existing “Ultra Low Emission Zone” fee, plus pay-per-mile charges as needed.

Nothing screams “Success!” or “Replicate me!” like London’s leadership proposing a start-from-scratch overhaul because the system failed to meet its goals.

Essentially, London may soon be charging motorists as if they were taxi passengers — except they will be driving themselves in their own cars, along streets their tax money already pays for. We could chuckle about the absurdity of all this if only Democrats like President Joe Biden were not already pushing our own mileage-tax proposals here in the States.

The real reason London leaders are planning a vastly expanded tax structure on all vehicles may be far more cynical than saving the planet: The city desperately needs more revenue. Despite all the fees and fines it has collected since congestion pricing went into effect, the city’s public transit and roadway agency, Transport for London (TfL), is going broke.

As it stands, despite receiving a massive COVID bailout from the national government, TfL needs another $1.3 billion annually to operate in the black. Even before the pandemic, TfL’s budget shortfalls and cost overruns were more consistent than its bus schedule.

All this should sound eerily familiar to outer-borough New Yorkers who at present pay for the privilege of driving to posh Manhattan while their own streets remain choked in transit deserts.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority already runs its own version of congestion pricing, called MTA Bridges and Tunnels. Under this scheme, the state chooses which bridges and tunnels motorists must pay to cross to subsidize the public transportation of others. Just like London, a series of anti-car progressive lefties have pushed increases of these fees to satisfy MTA budget needs. In the past 30 years, those tolls have increased more than 375%. Even Bidenflation can’t keep up.

We don’t need to know how a new driving tax will affect our lives — we are already living it.

London’s congestion-pricing failure should serve as a cautionary tale. But our “leadership” in Albany is not going to read it let alone heed its warnings.

Instead, after New York City’s congestion plan creates more traffic, fails to reduce emissions and produces far less revenue than expected, Hochul & Co. are likely to arrive at the same conclusion as their London counterparts: charge more money, impose higher fees and expand the catchment area.

In the end, all roads lead to revenue”

Mr Borelli is right, the London Congestion Charge (a.k.a. tax) has never worked and is primarily a revenue raising measure. It should be scrapped! And New Yorkers should not follow London’s example.

Roger Lawson

New York Times article: https://nypost.com/2022/03/16/congestion-pricing-is-a-disaster-but-still-coming-to-nyc/

FFDF Page on Congestion Charge: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/congestion.htm

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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London Bus Action Plan Published

Transport for London (TfL) have published the Mayor’s Bus Action Plan – see link below for the full document. This document promotes bus travel as an “active travel” mode. But what is “active” about sitting on a bus?

The plan is full of such sophistry. Consider the following statement in it: “Meanwhile, climate change is a real and present emergency, as demonstrated by recent flooding in London and across Europe, and increasing numbers of wildfires in Europe, the Middle East, north Africa, North America and Australia. This is why the Mayor of London has made clear his ambition for London to be a world leader in tackling the twin dangers of air pollution and the climate emergency, and has brought forward the 2050 target for London to be a net zero carbon city to 2030”.

There is no evidence that recent storms and flooding are other than random events. Promoting the use of buses certainly won’t help when most of them are still diesel powered.

The big problems with London buses are well known. Bus journey times have slowed thus putting people off using them and the pandemic has contributed to lower usage. More cycle lanes have obstructed buses and diversion of traffic off minor roads in LTNs to major roads has increased congestion. Meanwhile the cost of bus journeys has increased.

In outer London few people want to wait in the rain for the next bus and take circuitous routes to destinations when they can jump in their own private car or call a taxi to do a door-to-door trip in a quicker time.

But the report does say that they can reduce carbon emissions “By accelerating the delivery of a zero-emission bus fleet to 2030”. Is that a commitment to actually deliver a zero emission bus fleet by 2030. No it’s not. It’s the typical weasel words of politicians.

The report says “In contrast, a modern bus service that provides an inclusive customer experience”. What does that mean? It does not explain.

It also says: “A well-connected bus network will enable car-free lifestyles by providing a high-quality, attractive mode of transport to connect new developments to shops, stations and other destinations”. But buses cannot provide for all the needs and trips that people take via car, particularly if you wish to travel outside London or other than in and out of the centre.

How do they propose to speed up bus journey times? By introducing road user charging that will deter other vehicles from using the roads you have paid for. And by putting in more bus lanes and bus plus cycle only streets.

There is one big omission from this report. Namely any consideration of the financial position of London buses. The fact they get massively subsidised out of taxation is not even mentioned. If bus users had to pay the real cost of their journeys they would choose another travel mode.

In summary this report contains some useful facts but it’s full of management speak and is way too long. It ignores the basic problem that buses can only meet a minority of the desires and needs of Londoners for transport.

Bus Action Plan: https://content.tfl.gov.uk/bus-action-plan.pdf

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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