London's public transport chief has dismissed calls to rid Oxford
Street of its “wall of red double-deckers” saying it would require two
“unacceptable and desecrating” bus stations to be built in the heart of
the West End.The Mayor’s Transport Commissioner Peter Hendy was responding for the
first time to growing demands from West End businesses to scale back
the volume of buses in London’s premier shopping street.
Link from Tony Wilson
proposal is for east-west bus routes to stop at either end of Oxford
Street with a shuttle or tram running its one-and-a-half-mile length.
But Mr Hendy said that while the option had been looked at it had been
decided that “having the huge bus station you would need at Marble Arch
would completely desecrate a very important place to people in Britain”.
He added: “If you built a bus station at the Tottenham Court
Road end it would take up a significant amount of space and would be
prohibitively expensive. A Hammersmith bus station is the sort of size
you would need and I don’t think that’s acceptable.”
Mr Hendy was
appearing before Westminster council’s West End Commission investigating
the future of the district’s £50 billion economy.
One member of
the commission, concert promoter Harvey Goldsmith, said Oxford Street
was plagued by “a never ending line of buses one after the other, half
of which are completely empty even in the rush hour”. But Mr Hendy
insisted that routes were set only in response to demand from
He said: “We’re not proscribing answers but the
reason there is so much transport in the West End is people want to go
there. So it’s counter intuitive to say ‘we’re going to cut down on
public transport’. It’s really not our job to say to people at
Paddington ‘Sorry we’re not taking you to Tottenham Court Road’.”
to Transport for London about 220,000 people — equivalent to more than
the population of Northampton — travel along Oxford Street by bus every
day. The number of buses has already been cut from around 320 to 270 an
hour after pressure from the New West End Company, which represents
stores in the area. But Mr Hendy said this had not improved average
traffic speeds. “It may be that buses are simply being replaced by
taxis,” he said.
The New West Company has said that eradicating
“busgestion” on Europe’s busiest shopping route is its top priority. It
argues that the arrival of Crossrail in 2017 will hugely reduce the need
for above-ground public transport.
The West End Commission was
set up in January when Westminster council was forced to scrap proposals
for new parking charges in the evening and at the weekend following a
campaign by the Standard.