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Solving London's future mobility challenges

At our recent transport, planning and housing forum, we were fortunate to have the very experienced Alex Williams, Head of Planning at Transport for London, open discussions with a review of some of the mobility challenges facing the capital through population growth. For our full report on the event discussions, click on the Bakerloo tube sign above.

Commenting on how TfL has been working to integrate the Mayor’s Transport Strategy with the London Plan and the Environment Strategy, Alex said ‘this kind of integration of a powerful set of three documents just doesn’t exist in other cities across the world’. He added that the big challenge is how will London manage the growth from 27 million trips per day – across buses, trains and tube lines - in the capital now to 33 million per day in 25 years’ time? How do we want these trips to be achieved? The Mayor is clear that he wants these to be mostly by sustainable modes, like walking and cycling.

Increasing capacity on the network by 85% over next 25 years is the aim.

‘It used to be a factor that once your kids got to secondary schools age you would migrate out, but this is happening less and less. Now we are seeing lots of people coming in, especially from Non-EU countries. We will be over 10 million in the 2030s and we will have to improve infrastructure.’

Alex said that the transport strategy is three-chaptered comprising healthy streets (which is all about ‘active travel’), a good public transport experience, and ‘supporting homes and jobs’. Linking transport to health, and the obesity issues, and a reduction to zero fatalities through pushing for better design of trucks, with fewer people driving in the capital, Alex then added that the Mayor’s air quality program for London is one of the most radical and far-reaching of any city.

The Mayor of London introduced the ULEZ (the world’s first ultra-low emissions zone) on 8 April to reduce harmful NO2 emissions from diesel vehicles by charging non-compliant lorries £100 per day and cars £12.50. The revenue will be invested in green transport projects for London. Alex Williams said that ‘the size of the current zone will be increased by a factor of 28 when it pushes out to the south circular and north circular road boundaries in October 2021. It’s about cleaning up the air for twenty-four hours of the day, 365 days of the year.’

'We want to offer metro services across south London, and we are doing lots of work on improving bus speeds. We are sweating the assets of the underground system, adding more trains per hour. We will be getting towards greater density in the right places with excellent public transport linked to rail line upgrades, and the Elizabeth Line extension, and potentially Crossrail 2 – but we have not got the money to do any of it,' he stated.

Following his presentation, Alex joined the first panel discussion looking in detail at the prospects for sustainable urban development around the Bakerloo Line extension into the boroughs of Southwark and Lewisham – with Colin Wilson of the GLA who is seconded to the London Borough of Southwark as Head of Regeneration for Old Kent Road and Gavin Miller of MICA Architects.

Alex Williams explained that south London desperately deserved a proper underground line so the Bakerloo will have core extension from Elephant & castle comprising five new stations – at Bricklayers Arms, Burgess Park, Asylum (all on the Old Kent Road), one at New Cross Gate (where it can link to the over-ground railway) and a station at Lewisham, where it will join a transport hub with the Docklands Light Railway and the main line to London Bridge and Kent. This new infrastructure will act as a catalyst for the creation of 20,000 new homes.

'Old Kent Road used to be synonymous with cheapest square on the Monopoly board, but there is genuine appetite to develop this part of London. We are looking at integrating the Bakerloo extension with upgrades to new rolling stock to create faster travel and frequency, and we may possibly extend all the way to Hayes, ' he concluded.

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