ULEZ opinion: Protest for better TfL Superloop buses and gov cash for Bakerloo line extension and rail links

Sadiq Khan’s expanded ULEZ is here now, at least until the election, and it is time to call for the public transport network London deserves.
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Whatever you think of it, London’s expanded Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) is now in place. Mayor Sadiq Khan has been steadfast with the Transport for London (TfL) scheme in the face of vocal opposition.

Fortunately for opponents, they will get a chance to vote on it in the mayoral election next May. The clamour around the issue means it is likely to be central to campaigns, with Tory candidate Susan Hall saying she will drop the newly expanded version of ULEZ if elected.

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Protests against ULEZ will no doubt continue, to some degree, through to polling day - but it is time to put some of that activist energy to good use.

For example, it should be used to call for TfL to carefully consider more targeted support for blue badge holders and health and social care professionals.

Furthermore, one of the main arguments against this second expansion of the emission zone is that the outer boroughs do not have the public transport services to provide an alternative to driving.

As you get further from central London, rail stations become fewer and farther between. Mr Khan this year announced the Superloop bus project, but bus travel remains impractical for many Londoners.

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Cycling is not an option for everyone - and it never will be. But it is the healthy and affordable option for a huge proportion of the population. The capital has seen a massive increase in cycling infrastructure in recent years, but there is far more to do, especially in outer boroughs. Electric bikes and scooters will become a mainstay of city travel (though, yes, we do need a solution to the rental vehicle pavement cluttering).

Sadiq Khan has expanded ULEZ, but London’s transport infrastructure needs improvements - and for that it will need cash from Rishi Sunak’s government - or Keir Starmer's. (Photos by Getty/TfL) Sadiq Khan has expanded ULEZ, but London’s transport infrastructure needs improvements - and for that it will need cash from Rishi Sunak’s government - or Keir Starmer's. (Photos by Getty/TfL)
Sadiq Khan has expanded ULEZ, but London’s transport infrastructure needs improvements - and for that it will need cash from Rishi Sunak’s government - or Keir Starmer's. (Photos by Getty/TfL)

Well-organised campaigns should be launched to call for these things to be addressed. Londoners should demand more from Sadiq Khan and the councils, but also more from central government. Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt need to provide funding for TfL to create the public transport and healthy travel infrastructure the city deserves.

Although it sits within the previous (2021) ULEZ expansion, the Bakerloo line extension to Lewisham is a case in point. Southeast London needs better rail links to thrive, but it is not going to be possible without capital funding. In 2021 transport secretary Grant Shapps ordered the safeguarding of land to enable the project. Now the government needs to ensure the mayor can make it happen.

The scale and geography of London’s transport challenges make it unique in the UK and calls for proactive measures.

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Of course, the mayoral election is not the only vote coming up. Without getting into polls and predictions, there is a strong chance Mr Khan’s London Labour colleague Keir Starmer will be prime minister this time next year. If he too wants Londoners’ votes he needs to begin talking about what he will do for the city.

Mr Khan says he will be on the right side of history over ULEZ - and he may well be right - but there is lots more work to do to make the city what it needs to be.

In the meantime, in less than a year, Londoners will get the chance to vote. Use that vote wisely.