Wednesday 24 October 2012

Buses Will Stay in Oxford Street..

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.

One 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 passengers.
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’.”
According 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.

Link from Tony Wilson