Transport for London (TfL) has revealed how it will find the money to double spending on cycling over the next five years, with the aim of increasing cycling levels by 36% by 2021/22.
As set out by its five year business plan, the capital’s transport authority will save £800m per year by 2020/21, and will increase spending £154m per year on cycling, while doubling funds to tackle air pollution to £875m over five years, as well as freezing transport fares and increasing Underground capacity.
The Mayor says he will save the money without raising fares, by reorganising ‘flabby’ TfL, but the London Green Party has criticised the plan for failing to set a target for reducing some of the capital's annual 2.2 billion journeys, without which, it says, buses will be stuck in traffic as more road space is dedicated to cycling and walking.
London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, said: “From my first day as Mayor of London I’ve been on a mission to create a modern and affordable transport that works for every Londoner. The new TfL Business Plan being presented today sets out an ambitious and wide-reaching programme that allows us to both freeze TfL fares, and invest record amounts modernising London’s transport’s infrastructure.
“Our plans over the next five years include modernising major Underground stations, bringing forward plans to extend the Bakerloo Line, and investing record amounts in cycling and cleaning up London’s air. The greatest city in the world must also have a genuinely world-class transport system, and this is vital for the future success of London’s economy. Today sets out the scale of our ambition.”
TfL will save around £2bn by reducing management layers, merging functions and eliminating duplication of work, another £2bn reducing reliance on agency staff and negotiating better deals with suppliers, and increasing advertising revenue and selling off ‘spare land’ for housing for another £3.4bn, to save a total estimated £800m.
However, Caroline Russell, London Assembly Green Party Member, says by reducing road space with new cycling and walking infrastructure, and not tackling motor traffic volumes, buses will end up stuck in traffic.
Russell said: “This plan just doesn’t add up. TfL has planned for the same amount of car driving trips every year from now until 2021 – 2.2 billion journeys per year.”
“With buses having to compete for space with this many cars, the Mayor will struggle to attract more bus passengers and get his transport budget to balance.”
“As long as the roads remain clogged up with cars, buses will remain slow and unappealing.”
“The Mayor must set a bold target for reducing traffic over his term of office.”
A number of strategies have been announced to tackle London’s air pollution, which breaches legal limits and kills around 9,400 people prematurely each year. The ‘world’s first’ Ultra Low Emission Zone will be launched, with a current consultation looking to extend that to the North and South Circulars for all vehicles, and London-wide for lorries, coaches and buses, potentially from 2019, at a cost of £610m.
The Mayor is also consulting on an emissions surcharge, a T-charge, which will remove older vehicles from central London. He also proposes to introduce five Low Emission Neighbourhoods, spanning eight boroughs and involving local businesses. The Mayor’s Air Quality Fund will provide £9m to target some of the worst pollution hotspots across London.
TfL will only buy hybrid or zero emissions buses from 2018, with diesel buses phased out. Similarly, all new black cabs licensed after 1 January 2018 will need to be zero-emissions capable; no new diesel taxis will be allowed. The mayor will provide a £65m fund for cabbies to decommission taxis over 10 years old, to encourage early adoption. All new minicabs will need to meet the same standard by 1 January 2020, and all private hire vehicles by 2023.
Plans for reducing buses on Oxford Street will be published next year.
The mayor is also calling on the Government to match his ambition and introduce a national diesel scrappage scheme, implement a 21st century Clean Air Act, reform Vehicle Excise Duty making polluting cars less attractive to buyers, and give London additional funding and powers to tackle the public health emergency caused by poor air quality.