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Business response to Mayor’s draft Transport Strategy (14 Jan 2010)

Business group London First has responded to the Mayor’s draft Transport Strategy this week with a series of proposals which they would like to see changed or added to the document, which sets out the short, medium and long term priorities for transport policy in the capital.

London First would like to see the Mayor and Transport for London (TfL) explore new funding mechanisms to allow progress on stalled schemes. For instance, the project to build a new river crossing at Silvertown could be funded through a toll on the overloaded Blackwall tunnel, allowing construction within the next ten years.

Baroness Jo Valentine, Chief Executive of London First, said:

“There’s a lot in the Mayor’s transport strategy which we welcome, from the recognition of the critical importance of transport capacity to economic growth, to the commitment to build Crossrail and to improve the effectiveness of the road network. The next few years will see a dramatic tightening in public spending, so it’s time for Boris to look more creatively at ways of funding improvements to London’s transport infrastructure. Many European countries have tolls on bridges and motorways, and manage to modernise and extend their public transport and road networks. There ought to be some ideas which we could apply to meeting London’s needs.”

London First, whose members include many of London’s leading employers, seeks the following additions and changes to the Mayor’s strategy:

1. Development and promotion of new funding mechanisms and procurement strategies to allow important but unfunded projects to proceed.

2. Greater emphasis on reducing road congestion (and hence air pollution), including measurable targets for the Transport for London (TLRN) and Strategic Road (SRN) networks and a holistic plan to deliver these.

Measures should include a central London freight consolidation centre, a corridor-based approach to optimise major routes and better accident and breakdown response on strategic roads.

3. Medium and long-term strategies for airport capacity.

Support for medium-term expansion of Heathrow – to prevent capacity shortfall before 2030 – in parallel with work to evaluate long-term solutions.

4. Improved availability of real time information during disruptions and better integration of service information between TfL and other providers.

For example, by improving access to information on alternative services via barrier signs, ticket hall terminals and PDAs.

5. Suspension (NOT SCRAPPING OF) the western extension to the congestion charging zone (WEZ) to assess impact on air quality

Suspension for a period of 6 months would allow time for travel behaviours to adjust and air quality to be measured. From this, an informed assessment could be made of the importance of WEZ to the Mayor’s ambitions to improve air quality and avoid a significant EU fine.

6. Major strategic review of how bus services are planned.

New fare and ticketing arrangements are needed which encourage more multi-bus and multi-mode trips, to reduce subsidies, congestion and emissions.

7. Improved delivery and servicing arrangements.

Eg. by working with boroughs to tackle the worst unloading hot-spots, active support for out-of-hours deliveries (particularly in non-residential areas) and rationalisation of restrictions, such as the London Lorry Control Scheme and delivery windows specified in planning permissions.

8. Support for road user charging schemes in the medium term.

New peak time schemes are essential to improve heavily congested roads and could help fund local infrastructure improvements which were otherwise undeliverable in the current fiscal climate. The Mayor should outline how new schemes will be developed in partnership with key stakeholders.

9. Support for greater technical innovation on railways and the Tube in the longer term.

New technology can provide additional capacity and improved reliability at lower cost.

For more information, contact Graham Capper on 020 7665 1505 or 07983 611227

Note to editors

London First is a business membership group whose aim is to make London the best city in the world in which to do business. London First We do this by mobilising the experience, expertise and enthusiasm of the private sector to develop practical solutions to the challenges London faces and to lobby government for the investment that London needs in its infrastructure. London First delivers its activities with the support of around 250 of the capital’s major businesses in key sectors such as finance, professional services, property, creative industries, hospitality and retail. Our members represent around a quarter of London’s GDP.

London First’s full consultation response on the draft Mayor’s Transport Strategy can be downloaded here

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