Plans for more buses in outer London moved closer on Monday as one of Sadiq Khan’s own advisors said more had to be done to boost public transport in the suburbs ahead of the expansion of the ultra-low emission zone.
Transport for London has opened consultations on expanding several bus routes serving Barnet, Brent, Havering and Wandsworth “to strengthen alternatives to private cars” ahead of the Ulez expanding Londonwide on August 29.
It came after TfL board member Lynn Sloman raised concerns that its £150m-a-year “healthy streets” programme, which funds walking and cycling schemes, was too focused on inner London.
The Ulez expansion is expected to generate up to £300m for TfL in its first year but there are concerns that too little is being offered as a “trade off” to win support for the mayor’s scheme and help Londoners to give up their cars.
Dr Sloman warned: “There is an issue of political realities catching up with us, and the importance of being able to show the Ulez is part of a wider package, which is about improving the public transport and active travel offer in outer London.”
Speaking at TfL’s programmes and investment committee, she added: “It’s not quite enough to say we will carry on doing what we have always done…. How do we show ourselves to be nimble to the fact that the politics are moving on?
“Are there any improvements we can bring up the priority list? What are the things we could be doing in outer London that we could deliver quite soon?”
TfL commissioner Andy Lord said there was a “very live conversation” taking place among senior figures but said discussions should be held in private.
The bus changes going out to consultation are part of the “more than one million extra kilometres” of bus journeys first promised by Mr Khan last year.
About 440m km (273m miles) are operated by London buses each year. The proposals would add 400,000km – an increase of less than 0.01 per cent.
Extending route 79 to serve Stonebridge Park station and beyond.
Changing eight routes in the Brent Cross and Cricklewood area ahead of the opening of Brent Cross West rail station this year.
Extending route 497 from Harold Wood to Upminster.
Extending route 315 from Balham station to Springfield University Hospital in Tooting.
Mr Khan said: “These exciting improvements will strengthen the alternatives to private car use, and make it much easier to get around key parts of outer London by public transport.”
But Nick Rogers, City Hall Conservatives transport spokesperson, said: "These proposals are paltry and show that Sadiq Khan is not serious about improving public transport in outer London."
The consultation on changing the eight routes around Brent Cross involves the 102, 189, 210, 232, 266, 316, 326 and C11 buses. TfL’s consultation can be found here.
The consultation on extending the 315 bus route from Balham to Springfield hospital can be found here.
The proposed extension of route 79, to serve Stonebridge Park Station via Ealing Road, Mount Pleasant and Beresford Avenue, would mean it would no longer serve stops between Ealing Road and Alperton, Sainsbury’s.
As a result, an extension of route 83 from Alperton Station to Alperton, Sainsbury’s is also proposed. Details can be found here.
If TfL goes ahead with the extension of route 497 from Harold Wood to Upminster - in response to requests from passengers for a direct link between these areas - this would result in the axing of the 346 and 347 buses.
Plans to change routes around Wembley are due to be published in the coming weeks. TfL is also working on more buses in Southall and Haringey.
There are also plans for a Heathrow to Croydon “bus priority corridor”, and a link from Sutton town centre to the borough’s Royal Marsden hospital campus.
On healthy streets, new projects moving to “detailed design” include the Enfield town centre “liveable neighbourhoods” scheme, where construction could start next year.