Tuesday 5 November 2013


Demand will soon outstrip supply on London's buses, report finds

Busy: London bus services are being increasingly squeezed by the city's burgeoning population

London’s bus passengers face increasingly overcrowded journeys unless the Mayor and Transport for London take action, a London Assembly report has warned.
Commuters on the heavily-used routes from outer boroughs into central London are set to suffer most, it predicts.
The report by the transport committee of the Assembly, the elected body scrutinising Mayor Boris Johnson, claims there will be 167 million extra annual journeys by 2022 without adequate planning for the extra capacity.
It claims that while there are plans to deal with expansion of the tube and rail routes, there is not the same provision for more bus routes to account for London’s booming population.
More than a quarter of passengers surveyed for the report said their route was already overcrowded.
The Assembly names the worst route as the 25 from Ilford into the West End, with Holborn Circus the point where passengers are most squashed.
Also among the most packed are the 18 from Sudbury & Harrow Road to Euston and the 29 from Lordship Lane to Trafalgar Square.
Passengers also complained of chronic overcrowding on the 185 from Lewisham to Victoria and the 208 from Orpington to Lewisham.
Val Shawcross, chairwoman of the transport committee, said: “Buses are vital to keep London’s transport network up and running.
“Every day 6.5 million journeys are taken by bus, more than twice as many as on the Tube.
“Demand for bus travel sees no sign of dwindling, but, despite forecasting 167 million more bus journeys by 2022, the Mayor and TfL have not set out how London’s bus routes will cope with extra passengers.”
Leon Daniels, Transport for London’s managing director of surface transport, said: “Our network carries 2.3 billion passengers a year – more than the rest of the England combined.
“It is the most accessible in the world and reaches every corner of the capital, with 95 per cent of Londoners never more than 400 metres from a bus stop.
“We are committed to maintaining and further improving this network and ensuring it continues to expand to meet the needs of London’s growing population. To achieve this we need the Government to continue to support our investment whilst we work hard to get the most out of the existing network and match capacity to passenger demand.”

The long report produced by the London Assembly can be viewed here  

However, the recommendations are as follows:-

Recommendation 1
By March 2014 the Mayor and TfL should demonstrate to Londoners how they are meeting the challenge of rising demand for bus travel by publishing a long-term strategy for the development of the bus network. This strategy should include a mechanism whereby TfL will monitor and respond to bus passengers’ reports of overcrowding e.g. via Twitter and publish its findings and actions from this monitoring.

Recommendation 2
By March 2014 the Mayor and TfL should demonstrate to Londoners that they are monitoring and addressing the busyness of buses by devising a performance measure for all bus routes that captures how many people cannot board a bus because it is too full and cannot get a seat once on board in peak times. They should set annual targets for performance against this measure and report on progress against these targets twice a year.

Recommendation 3
By March 2014 the Mayor and TfL should devise and publish a programme of cross-borough boundary bus service reviews and set out, for consultation, proposals for more orbital and express bus routes.

Recommendation 4
By March 2014 the Mayor and TfL should devise and publish details of a new approach to bus service consultation to provide for boroughs and Londoners to have a more informed say on bus services. This should include provision for targeted consultation with bus passengers who use Oyster cards via email and for the boroughs and bus users to comment on TfL’s guidelines for planning bus services.

Recommendation 5
By March 2014 the Mayor and TfL should report on their work with NHS providers including through the London Health Board to plan for good public transport access at each London hospital and major health centre now and after NHS reconfigurations.

Recommendation 6
In its next published business plan, TfL should demonstrate to Londoners the cost effectiveness of the bus service by showing the gross cost effectiveness and financial impact of concessionary fares for all modes of transport.
 Recommendation 7
By March 2014 the Mayor and TfL should report on how they will use the next generation of Oyster cards to develop a passenger focused ticketing system that provides for new ticketing and fares options including ‘early bird’ fares, part-time travel cards and ‘one hour’ bus tickets, and funding options for these new products.

Recommendation 8
By March 2014, the Mayor and TfL should publish details on how they are improving bus journey reliability. This may mean more bus priority measures and tackling the 30 traffic pinch points on the road network that affect 250 bus routes.

Recommendation 9
By March 2014, the Mayor and TfL should publish the schedule for the roll-out of more environmentally friendly bus vehicles including electric bus vehicles to help reduce air pollution.