Drivers blast Boris' £3billion plan to put more buses on the road03/15/2021
‘War on motorists must stop’: Drivers blast Boris Johnson’s £3bn ‘green revolution’ plan to put thousands more buses on Britain’s roads claiming huge bus lane expansion will cause gridlock
- Boris Johnson to unveil plan for huge expansion of bus lanes and 4,000 vehicles
- Fares will be made simpler with daily price cap across different transport modes
- Councils and operators to be urged to run more frequent services for customers
- Transport groups say the £3billion investment is an ‘expensive sticking plaster’
- The Alliance of British Drivers said new bus lanes could create more congestion
Drivers have today urged the Government to ‘stop the war on motorists’, as they blasted Boris Johnson’s plans to put thousands more buses of Britain’s roads.
As part of a new £3billion ‘green revolution’, the Government has announced plans for hundreds of miles of new bus lanes to discourage driving.
In a major transport shake-up, the Prime Minister will also today unveil simpler fares with daily price caps for multiple journeys across different types of public transport.
Councils and operators will be told to work to increase the frequency of services so passengers can ‘turn up and go’, with main route service so frequent that timetables could be ditched.
More buses will be put on in the evenings and at weekends and all will accept contactless payments.
But the Alliance of British Drivers, which lobbies for the interest of motorists, today warned the plans could lead to more congestion on the roads – as already busy two lane roads get cut to one in favour of bus lanes.
Spokesperson, Hugh Bladen, told MailOnline: ‘I really don’t understand what this Government has got against drivers. They said this war on motorists was going to stop.
In a major transport shake-up, the Prime Minister will also today unveil simpler fares on buses (pictured: Library image) with daily price caps for multiple journeys across different types of public transport
Drivers have today urged the Government to ‘stop the war on motorists’, as they blasted Boris Johnson’s (pictured) plans to put thousands more buses of Britain’s roads
The Alliance of British Drivers, which lobbies for the interest of motorists, today warned the plans could lead to more congestion on the roads – as already busy two lane roads get cut to one in favour of bus lanes (pictured: Library image)
‘People drive their cars because they need to get somewhere, like to the shops or to work.
‘People are not going to go on a bus to shop at Tesco and come back on the bus with all of their stuff.’
UK bus statistics in numbers
- There were 4billion bus journeys made in the UK in 2019/20;
- Of those 2billion were made in London alone;
- However the number of bus journeys made in the UK has dropped by 11 per cent in 10 years;
- There were 1.13billion bus miles completed in 2019/20;
- This is a decline of 13 per cent since 2009/10;
- There were more than 32,000 buses in operation by local operators in 2019/20;
- Less than half (46 per cent) met Euro VI emissions standards;
- 84 per cent had diesel engines;
- 89 per cent of passengers said they were satisfied with their bus journey;
- 64 per cent of fare payers said cost was value for money
Source: Government’s annual bus report
Mr Bladen said Britain had one of the largest bus fleets in Europe, behind Turkey and Poland.
Mr Bladen added: ‘There are already buses all over the place. (And) why do they need bus lanes?
‘Why are buses, which sometimes have just a few people on them, so important that cars have to sit their queuing in just one remaining lane?’
Other have criticised the plans for not going for enough, including Unite, which represents over 70,000 bus workers.
The union has warned that the Government’s new national bus strategy will not reverse more than a decade of cuts to bus services.
‘While the national bus strategy talks about major funding, there appears to be little new money being provided and what is available does not replace what has been removed from bus services as a result of over a decade of Conservative cuts,’ Unite’s national officer for passenger transport Bobby Morton said.
Green campaign groups have also accused the Government of not going far enough with the plans.
Mike Childs, Head of Science at Friends of the Earth, said: ‘Deregulation of bus services and a decade of austerity have been a toxic mix for bus passengers with services declining and fares soaring.
‘The government’s plans are small steps in reversing this, but the detail is lacking and the money needed far short of what is needed.’
Mr Childs added that the Government could make buses free for ‘£3billion a year’ which he said was ‘nothing compared to the tens of billions handed to motorists through successive fuel duty freezes’.
Britain’s buses have traditionally been viewed as something of a ‘Cinderella service’ in recent years, while the bulk of transport investment has gone towards train projects such as HS2, Crossrail and electrification.
In a major transport shake-up, the Prime Minister will also unveil simpler fares with daily price caps for multiple journeys across different types of public transport
The number of bus passengers has fallen by 12 per cent over the past decade, whereas fares have risen by almost 80 per cent over the last 16.
A £3billion investment will help fund 4,000 UK-built electric or hydrogen vehicles to provide clean, quiet and zero-emission travel. There will also be a consultation on an end-date to the sale of new diesel buses.
The Department for Transport hope the strategy will see passengers in England benefiting from more frequent, more reliable, easier to use, better coordinated and cheaper bus services.
The strategy, which reverses much of Margaret Thatcher’s 1986 deregulation, risks angering motorists, who could face longer journeys.
And it comes hard on the heels of the High Court ruling that hundreds of road schemes brought in during the pandemic could be scrapped.
A judge said London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s guidance on the measures – such as pop-up cycle lanes – was ‘unlawful’ and ‘irrational’.
Critics say the measures blocked emergency vehicles and brought gridlock.
But Mr Johnson said last night: ‘Buses are lifelines and liberators, connecting people to jobs they couldn’t otherwise take, driving pensioners and young people to see their friends, sustaining town centres and protecting the environment.
‘As we build back from the pandemic, better buses will be one of our first acts of levelling-up.
‘Just as they did in London, our reforms will make buses the transport of choice, reducing the number of car journeys and improving quality of life for millions.’
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps added: ‘Buses are this country’s favourite way of getting around.
‘They help us get to school, to the GP, or to the shops – but services across England are patchy, and it’s frankly not good enough. The quality of bus service you receive shouldn’t be dependent on where you live.’
But critics have said the move only puts a sticking plaster over the cracks of years in underinvestment in bus services.
Labour’s shadow bus minister Sam Tarry said: ‘This so-called strategy offers nothing for those who were looking for a bold vision to reverse the millions of miles of bus routes lost across the country.
As part of a new £3billion ‘green revolution’, the Government has announced plans for hundreds of miles of new bus lanes (pictured: Library image) to discourage driving
‘People will be wondering when they return to work whether there will be enough affordable and regular buses for their daily commute.
‘The Tories said deregulation would improve our buses but they’re running bus services into the ground. Passengers now face a toxic mix of rising fares, cuts to services and reduced access.’
Mick Cash, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, said the strategy appears to ‘lack ambition’ for addressing the challenges of getting people back onto sustainable public transport following the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Campaign to Protect Rural England warned that half of rural towns in the South West and North East were ‘transport deserts’.
Policy director Tom Fyans said: ‘A one-off investment of £3billion is really just an expensive sticking plaster after a decade of cuts to rural bus services.’
But David Brown, Chief Executive of major transport operator, Go-Ahead Group: ‘It’s the right time to have a national strategy for buses.
‘Bus usage has been falling for seven years and if Britain is serious about becoming a carbon neutral nation, we urgently need to halt that decline and persuade people to leave their cars at home.
‘In order to do that, buses need to be quick, reliable and convenient. That means giving more bus priority including precedence for buses at traffic lights and tackling rush hour gridlock.’
Responding to the launch of the Government’s new bus strategy, Cllr Darren Rodwell, Local Government Association transport spokesperson, said: ‘We are pleased the Government is investing in improving local bus services, and it is good this strategy recognises the important role of councils.’
‘We would urge government to also plug the £700million annual funding gap councils faced before the pandemic in providing the concessionary fares scheme, which would help to protect local routes and reverse the decline in bus services.’
Sadiq Khan’s cycling tsar brags of plastering capital in sixty milesof bike lanes while London was battling pandemic in last year – despite High Court ruling schemes are illegal
By Mark Duell for MailOnline
Sadiq Khan’s cycling tsar has revealed 62 miles of cycle lanes have been built across London in the past year, despite a court ruling the schemes were unlawful.
The pop-up lanes have been brought in to encourage people to walk or cycle during the pandemic, along with the widening of pavements and road closures.
The measures were rolled out under ‘low-traffic neighbourhood’ schemes but were criticised for causing gridlock with one in Kensington removed after an outcry.
The new data was revealed by Will Norman, the Mayor’s walking and cycling commissioner, who added that 100km (62 miles) of new cycle lanes and ‘hundreds of kilometres of quieter streets’ had been constructed in the past year.
He said there had been an increase of 200 cent in cycling over the weekend of February 20 and 21. Transport for London later confirmed the exact figure was 218 per cent and this was based on cycle flows at selected sites, compared to last year.
Sadiq Khan has overseen the rapid construction of a cycling network using temporary bollards
The new data was revealed by Will Norman, the Mayor’s walking and cycling commissioner
Critics say the measures have also blocked emergency response vehicles and caused problems for local businesses in towns and cities across the UK.
In January, the High Court ruled that guidance issued by the Mayor to promote the expansion of schemes was ‘irrational’ and unlawful because it failed to safeguard road access for taxis and disabled people.
The judge said authorities ‘took advantage of the pandemic’ to turn parts of London into car-free zones.
Mr Norman tweeted last Friday: ‘Boom. New data: In less than 12 months, Mayor of London, Transport for London and London Councils have built 100km of new cycle lanes and hundreds of kilometres of quieter streets.
‘The result? Last weekend we saw a 200 per cent plus increase in cycling, 300 per cent plus in some places. Amazing! Build it and they will come.’
Last month Transport Secretary Grant Shapps defended the roll-out of controversial road schemes designed to reduce car use yesterday.
Critics have claimed the measures were often brought in with little consultation, but Mr Shapps has insisted they are mostly popular.
An investigation in January found town halls squandered nearly £1million after being forced to scrap expensive and controversial road schemes brought in during the pandemic.
At least 138 schemes have been completed, with 13 having to be scrapped and 25 altered after a backlash from residents and the emergency services.
Dozens more schemes are now in development after the award of £175million from the government in November.
It followed £250million in May for temporary changes to roads during the pandemic.
At the Commons transport committee on February 2, Mr Shapps cited polling done by his department which showed a majority agreed with the aims of the projects.
This included 88 per cent agreeing they wanted increased road safety, 86 per cent wanting improved air quality and 83 per cent reduced traffic congestion.
A TfL spokesman told MailOnline today: ‘We were very disappointed with the court’s decision and have applied for permission to appeal this judgment.
‘Helping the capital to get through, and recover from, the coronavirus pandemic has always been at the heart of our plans for walking and cycling.
‘Temporary schemes continue to enable safer essential journeys for thousands of Londoners who need to travel during this exceptionally challenging time.
‘We recognise how important it is for our schemes to work for the communities they serve, including people who use taxis, and we will continue to deliver schemes to reflect the changing coronavirus situation.’
Following the ruling in January, TfL insisted it would keep the makeshift cycle lanes while appealing the judgment.
Justice Lang ruled London’s ‘Streetspace’ scheme was ‘seriously flawed’ and ‘took advantage of the pandemic’ to push through ‘radical’ and permanent road changes.
The judgment followed a legal challenge by organisations representing black cab drivers who were angry about being banned from a new bus-only route on the A10.
This graphic from Transport for London shows all the cycle lanes in place across the capital
Justice Lang said the A10 scheme treated in Bishopsgate cab drivers unfairly and should be abolished.
But her judgment also called for an end to the Mayor’s wider Streetspace initiative, including the introduction of several hundred miles of temporary cycle lanes.
However there were no findings were made about the lawfulness of other borough schemes which are allowed to remain in place as boroughs consider appropriate.
In addition, until the appeal process is concluded, both the Bishopsgate scheme and TfL’s interim guidance to boroughs can remain in place.
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