Mixed Reaction To 24 Hour Bus Lane Decision

TfL accused of failing to justify making change permanent

24 hour bus lane operation was introduced as a temporary measure

Transport for London (TfL) has announced that it intends to make its trial of 24-hour bus lanes permanent.

It says that a trial found that extending bus lane hours on London’s busiest roads cut journey times and helped reliability. The move has been welcomed by some campaign groups but has met with opposition in certain quarters with TfL being criticised by failing to provide detailed data to support the decision.

Conservative London Assembly member, Tony Devenish, said of the announcement on Twitter, “Yet another way @SadiqKhan and @TfL are seeking to shove the car off the road and make life harder for London motorists. No evidence is offered … that bus times have improved.”

TfL says that improvements in bus journey times were particularly noticeable in central and inner London, especially in both the mornings and evenings and throughout Sundays. It says 24-hour bus lanes are also expected to improve service reliability in the longer term. Before the pandemic 1.15 billion journeys were made each year on the bus routes which have seen bus lane operational hours extended, out of a total of around 2.2 billion journeys.

The trial saw 85km of bus lanes on the Transport for London Road Network (TLRN) - comprising some of the capital’s busiest roads - move to operating 24-hours a day, seven days a week. General traffic was restricted from driving in the bus lanes, while Blue Badge parking facilities and permitted taxi access were retained.

TfL says it engaged with members of the public and stakeholders such as accessibility groups and the watchdog London TravelWatch to understand how the trial was received. It claims that there was widespread overall support to make the trial permanent and by listening to feedback TfL has been able to reinstate parking bays at 10 locations where they will not reduce the benefits of the bus lanes. However, concerns have been raised that the decision is revenue driven and many motorists will received fines for driving in a bus lane at times when no bus service is operating. Questions have also been raised as to how TfL were able to determine the changes helped journey times when there was so much distortion to normal travel patterns.

The changes will be made permanent in the New Year subject to a final statutory consultation with emergency services, local authorities and other statutory consultees.

Heidi Alexander, Deputy Mayor for Transport, said: “It’s vital that buses remain a reliable, attractive option for travelling around the capital to help prevent increased congestion and worsening air quality. The extension of bus lane hours to 24 hours on London’s busiest roads received a lot of support, and these changes will reduce bus journey times and help service reliability, helping people get around the city easily and sustainably.”

We requested data on the operational impact of for individual bus lanes from TfL but they did not respond.

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December 26, 2021