TfL launches Bus Action Plan

London’s transport authority also warns jobs could be at risk if long-term support is not provided by the Government

TfL has published its long-term plan for buses. It is designed to attract more customers on the bus network and help the capital become Net Zero by 2030. The Bus Action Plan plan is intended to create an even more attractive alternative to car use by focusing on five areas:

  • An inclusive customer experience – a modern, relevant bus network that allows for spontaneous, independent travel, including improved customer information and bus station refurbishment; with actions including upgrading more existing bus stops to meet the wheelchair accessible standard.
  • Safety and security – a safe, secure bus network, with no one killed on or by a bus by 2030, and with all elements of the Bus Safety Standard implemented by 2024; and ensuring all customers and staff feel confident on the bus network travelling day and night, including through improved bus driver training.
  • Faster journeys – a faster and more efficient bus network, with journeys 10% quicker than in 2015, with initiatives including the aim to introduce 25km of new and improved bus lanes by 2025.
  • Improved connections – a bus network better suited to longer trips with better interchanges, especially in outer London; and ensuring London residents remain close to a bus stop.
  • Decarbonisation and climate resilience – a zero-emission bus fleet to tackle climate change and improve air quality, working with operators, boroughs and suppliers to reduce the cost and difficulty of infrastructure upgrades needed to enable the transition of the bus fleet; and safeguarding the network from extreme weather conditions.

The plan can already be seen in action on the route 63 from King’s Cross to Honor Oak, where new higher specification electric ADL Enviro400EVs were launched last month.

After trials found that extending bus lane hours on London’s busiest roads cut bus journey times and helped service reliability, TfL announced in December last year that the majority of bus lanes on London’s red routes would be converted to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Funding needed

TfL said that without sufficient, long-term capital support from the Government, the bus network itself and the priorities within the plan will be at risk. The capital has one of highest number of zero-emission buses in Europe, with 800 at present, and is on target to hit 10% of the whole fleet this year. All new buses to the network are zero-emission and sustained Government funding could see all buses converted as early as 2030, taking 500,000 tonnes of carbon out of the transport system.

TfL says such funding from Government is critical if the benefits outlined in the plan are to be realised. It stresses that the benefits of investment in London buses are seen across the UK. TfL contracts support thousands of jobs outside London, with 3,000 roles in green bus manufacturing alone already created in Falkirk, Ballymena and Scarborough. These jobs are at risk, according to the capital’s transport authority, if TfL does not get the longer-term funding it needs.

“Ultimately, it’s about making the bus the natural choice over the car” – Louise Cheeseman, TfL’s Director of Buses

Louise Cheeseman, TfL’s Director of Buses, said: “We are excited to set out our bus strategy for the rest of this decade, which is all about creating a bus service reflective of our customers and their evolving needs, supporting a sustainable recovery from the pandemic, making London a Net Zero city by 2030 and improving people’s safety and wellbeing.

“Investment in buses is imperative in dealing with the climate crisis and cleaning up the toxic air that is damaging our health. Our red bus network is fundamental to preventing congestion and, more widely, is a catalyst for unlocking homes and employment in London, as well as creating green jobs across the UK. Buses are already an efficient, convenient form of public transport and London has the largest green bus fleet in western Europe, but we need to raise the bar. The Bus Action Plan sets out how we will meet the challenges now and into the future, making buses cleaner and greener, more efficient and an option for all our city’s diverse communities. Ultimately, it’s about making the bus the natural choice over the car.

“We can’t do it by ourselves, and in publishing the action plan today we’ll be well placed to start more engagement over the coming months on our shared objective of making London a better place to live.”

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