14 April 2008

London Mayor outlines bus upgrade plan

It's business as normal for London Mayor Ken Livingstone who has outlined plans for the next stage of upgrading the capital's bus network, which he says will be implemented if he is re-elected next month. Ongoing Mayoral campaigning is underway with the election taking place on 1 May to decide who will be London Mayor for the next four years.

Much has been made of one of his contender's plans to re-introduce a 21st century Routemaster to replace the "hated" articulated Citaros and the lack of consistency with his transport policy in general, not to mention independent transport consultants claiming Boris Johnson's figures simply don't add up. Ken could do well to attract votes in the transport sector by exposing Boris' errors as well as come up with some genuine policy of his own that is, by contrast, far more in-depth and "workable". And so it happened on his second day of campaigning on extending the reach of the transport system on 9 April that Ken Livingstone outlined his ambitious plans for London's bus services.

He started by reminding his potential voters on the progress made thus far in his 8 year tenure as Mayor: Londoners now benefit from the biggest city bus fleet in the world - all modern, low floor wheelchair and pram-accessible, and the convenience of Oyster card ticketing. Every bus has CCTV and nearly two million extra-journeys on buses are made every day with ridership increasing most rapidly among those with higher incomes. He said in real terms bus fares are lower now than in 2000.

Ken's main aim in his plans for London's buses is to match rising demand with new routes, to offer greater and better bus priority and more 24 hour-a-day services. He promised to move the Capital's bus fleet onto greener fuels, with a substantial proportion running on hybrid technology - up to 500 ethanol-powered buses by 2010 and by 2012 every new bus ordered for London would operate on hybrid technology.

Ken added, "No public service has improved more visibly than our buses, which enhance transport connections for Londoners across the city, including where the Tube and rail services are not available, and my commitment is to continue to improve and expand London's bus services, matching rising demand with new routes, more bus priority, and more services 24 hours a day. Every bus route in London has seen higher frequency or greater bus capacity.

"The greatest testament to the improvements made to London's bus services is that after years of decline and decay Londoners have gone back to using the buses in huge numbers. We will double the number of Countdown signs from 2,000 to 4,000, with a new state of the art GPS vehicle location system, giving passengers accurate second-by-second information at bus stops, on buses and to mobile phones."