TfL: ‘Political rhetoric’ on transport spending ‘hides limited options’ for millions, says think tank

One of the authors of a new report said improving modes such as cycling and public transport is “at the heart of making London a more liveable city”.
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Limited transport options are stopping millions of outer London residents from travelling more sustainably, a new report has found.

Centre for London, an independent think-tank, has published data showing 38% of journeys in outer London involve a car, more than the 20% using public transport, and double the 19% of car journeys recorded in the city centre.

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The report, Moving with the Times: Supporting sustainable travel in outer London, found that half of those car trips are of less than two miles. The think tank says this is due to issues including the available public transport and cycle lanes being designed for commuting, not local trips.

Centre for London acknowledges there are multiple barriers to improving the transport options available to those living in the city’s outer boroughs.

These include the high cost of new infrastructure, time-consuming application processes for local authorities looking to fund new projects, and “financial and political barriers” to councils wanting to reallocate road space.

A list of 10 recommendations the think tank believes should be prioritised to deliver more options for residents inludes providing sufficient funding to improving the rail network.

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The slower pace of the rollout of sustainable modes of transport in outer London has partly fuelled the opposition to the expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), scheduled for August 29 this year.

A spokesperson for the mayor, Sadiq Khan, said he is “determined” to improve London’s public transport network, with cycling and walking options “a huge priority”.

Millions of Londoners have ‘limited options’

Claire Harding, interim chief executive at Centre for London, said many outer London residents do not have access to the transport options available to those in the centre of the city.

She continued: “Political rhetoric about transport spending in London hides the fact that millions of Londoners have limited options for getting around their neighbourhood.

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“Improving the options people have to travel sustainably for local trips, not just commuting, is at the heart of making London a more liveable city.”

Be First

Tim Thomas, head of transport policy at Barking and Dagenham-based Be First, said outer London has been “underfunded for many years”, and that there are currently “too many barriers” for those wanting to walk, cycle and travel sustainably.

“We want to see an injection of investment in active travel in outer London, so people who live there have safe and realistic alternatives to travelling by private vehicle,” he continued.

“Be First are pushing ahead with sustainable travel projects in Barking and Dagenham and we’re also asking TfL for further investment in our borough.”

Sadiq Khan

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A spokesperson for the mayor outlined some of Mr Khan’s accomplishments to date, such as improving outer London services, such as delivering the Elizabeth line and opening the new Barking Riverside station, as well as future plans, notably the Superloop.

They said he has increased the number of cycle routes fivefold since 2016, though added: “There is always more to do and the mayor will continue to make it easier for Londoners to walk, cycle and take public transport as part of his plans to build a fairer, greener London for everyone”.

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