Passenger watchdog slams lack of ambition to improve bus speeds

07 December 2017

London’s transport watchdog today criticized as ‘unacceptable’ plans to keep bus speeds lower than they were five years ago.

London TravelWatch demanded a far more ambitious approach from TfL after its Finance Committee approved a five year plan forecasting bus speeds at just 9.2 mph, five percent lower than in 2013. Instead London TravelWatch laid out a string of improvements that would increase bus speeds and help stop the decline in passenger numbers.

Arthur Leathley, Chair of London TravelWatch said “Over the last few years there has been an unprecedented drop in bus passenger numbers linked to declining bus speeds. Despite this, TfL’s newly approved Business Plan is forecasting slow speeds for the next five years. This is unacceptable.”

He added “We will be writing to the Transport Commissioner to demand that much more action is taken by TfL to improve the performance of bus services in London and get their speeds back up to at least the level they were in 2013/14. We have previously suggested a number of measures that could be implemented, some of them can be done very quickly and simply to improve bus speeds.”

London TravelWatch’s blueprint for better bus speeds includes:
  1. Longer operational hours for the Red Routes – some should be 24/7
  2. A review of parking, waiting loading and bus lane operational hours along bus routes by the London boroughs
  3. A review of discounts and exemptions from congestion charging – private hire vehicles should no longer be exempt and residents discounts could be reduced
  4. Longer operation of the congestion charging zone – to operate, say 6am until 10pm, Monday to Sunday

Further information

  1. London TravelWatch is the operating name for the London Transport Users Committee. We are the official watchdog representing the interests of transport users in and around London, and independent of the transport operators and government. London TravelWatch is sponsored and funded by the London Assembly, part of the Greater London Authority.
  2. Follow London TravelWatch on Twitter and You Tube.
  3. For more information, please contact the London TravelWatch press office on 020 3176 5941 or 07734 055494.
  4. The first graph below is taken from TfL’s latest Customer and Operations Performance Report:  It shows the recent decline in bus speeds. TfL itself has attributed this to a sharp decline in bus speeds - the average bus speed across the network has fallen from 9.7mph in 2013/14 to 9.2mph in 2016/17.
  5. The second table below shows that TfL are planning for bus speeds to remain low across the network for the next five years.  The table is taken from the recently approved Business Plan 2019/19 to 2022/23:

Table 1

Bus speeds graph

Table 2

Forecast bus speeds


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