Outer London Public Transport

MQT on 2012-03-14
Session date: 
March 14, 2012
Question By: 
Valerie Shawcross
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor



Answer for Outer London Public Transport

Answer for Outer London Public Transport

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): You ask in what way Outer London public transport journeys have improved in the last four years. They have obviously increased but they have also greatly improved in the sense that they are now much, much safer. We said we were going to put 440 more uniformed officers in the Safer Transport Teams. We have banned alcohol on the transport network. Crime on buses is now down about a third. It is very considerably down, I think 64%, in Bromley from memory and crime on the Tube is now down 20%. We now have one of the safest metro systems in the whole of the world and we should be very, very proud of that.

We have not only made it safer; we have made it more convenient for people to travel on. After fruitless negotiations under the previous mayoralty, we did succeed in putting the Oyster card on the overground railway and we have massively improved the transport network generally. We have extended the overground to Bromley and to Croydon, by the end of this year we will have the first orbital railway connecting the suburbs and we will have seen a 50% increase in the capacity of the Docklands Light Railway (DLR), amongst many other things. I would cite in particular as an achievement of this mayoralty that we have got rid of the crazy public private partnership (PPP) under which this city laboured for so long and we have finally installed the transmission-based train control signalling. That is allowing us to cut journey times on the Jubilee line now by an average of one-and-a-half minutes. Each Jubilee line train is now going three miles an hour faster.

Those are the kinds of improvements that deliver value for the people of London and that improve the quality of their experience on our transport network. Those are the kinds of improvements that quite frankly I think the policies that she is advocating would put at risk.

Valerie Shawcross (AM): Mr Mayor, thank you very much. I think everybody appreciates that the policy on the Oyster card and the overground extension and the Safer Transport Teams was continued under your mayoralty and thank you for that.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Give over. Give me a break.

Valerie Shawcross (AM): But residents in outer London boroughs have seen their fares rise by 26% in the last four years. They did not get the orbital buses that you promised and buses have become much more crowded. They did not get the tram extensions. They did not get the DLR extensions.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): We are extending the tram.

Valerie Shawcross (AM): Some things have actually become much worse. You mentioned safety, Mr Mayor. I was looking at the issue of pedestrian and cycling safety in London and pedestrian accidents have been rising.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Absolute rubbish.

Valerie Shawcross (AM): In 20 out of 33 local authority areas - that is 60% of boroughs - with 14 of those boroughs being outer London, there have been rises in pedestrian accidents.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Cobblers.

Valerie Shawcross (AM): These are Transport for London (TfL) figures, Mr Mayor, which are published online, as you know. Redbridge up 27%, Barking and Dagenham up 17%, Richmond up 25% and pedestrian accidents are up 3% overall. It is a very mixed figure. When we look at cycling casualties, these went up in 24 out of 33 boroughs, so that is 73% of boroughs, and 13 of these were in outer London. For example, Barking and Dagenham up 57%, Bexley up 56%, Bromley up 40%, Hounslow up 33%. I think there is a big issue because these --

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): There is a dismal ignorance of the figures.

Valerie Shawcross (AM): I beg your pardon?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I am afraid there is a dismal ignorance of the figures there and I will give you the answer.

Valerie Shawcross (AM): Mr Mayor, these figures are from TfL sources because obviously we would not quote other figures. There has been a shift in the trend which has been going on for years of improved pedestrian and cycling safety. What checks have TfL undertaken that your policy of smoothing the traffic which involves re-phasing traffic lights and removing traffic signals are not impacting on pedestrian and cycling safety? Something is clearly going on and the Road Safety Plan has not yet been published.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Thank you, Val, very much for that magnificently innumerate question. Can I just give you the answer. If you look at pedestrian casualties, which is what you began with, I will give you pedestrians first and then we will turn to cyclists.

Valerie Shawcross (AM): I am talking about accidents, Mr Mayor. I was talking about accidents.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): If you look at pedestrians killed or severely injured (KSIs) in this city in the last year in which you had anything to do with transport in London, there were 1,276 pedestrian KSIs. In the first year of my mayoralty, there were 1,201. In the second year, there were 1,055. In 2010, the last year for which we have figures, there were 922. There has been overall a 51% reduction. I am going to go on to cycling.

Valerie Shawcross (AM): Yes, it is just that you are talking about KSIs, which is a very specific --

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): There has been 51% reduction in pedestrian KSIs. That is a great credit to the work of TfL in engineering our roads so as to make them as safe as possible. It is a great credit to everybody who educates bus drivers to make sure that they are observant of pedestrians. We are determined to continue with the work of making London ever safer.

It is absolutely impossible for you to sit there and argue that you have better plans to improve safety for pedestrians or cyclists or indeed anybody in this city when your programme involves cutting £1 billion out of the transport budget. Can I now answer your point about cyclists?

Valerie Shawcross (AM): Mr Mayor, can I just go back to this question? You were quoting - and I am not going to argue with the figures you were quoting - KSIs. I am talking about accidents. Accidents also matter because a slight injury has the potential to have been something serious. It can discourage people from walking. It can discourage people from cycling. These are accident figures and they are from TfL. Do you care about these and are you worried about them?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Of course I care about them. That is why I am so proud and that is why I am so proud of our achievement in substantially reducing the figures of pedestrian KSIs. That is why we are going to continue with a programme of investing in the roads and improving traffic flow, but I am afraid you cannot possibly comment.

Valerie Shawcross (AM): When are we going to see the publication of the Road Safety Plan that has been promised for some time? Perhaps I had better move on quickly to another topic.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I think you had better move on because your figures are completely inaccurate. If you would like me to give you the figures on cycling, I am more than happy to do so.

Valerie Shawcross (AM): Mr Mayor, I know the Chair tells me we should not bring props into the Chambers so I do hope you will forgive me, but this is a TfL fact sheet.

Jennette Arnold (Chair): No, I do not forgive you, not having said they are not allowed. Ms Shawcross, props are not allowed. Thank you for your question.

Valerie Shawcross (AM): Mr Mayor, your election manifesto clearly pledged to abandon the proposed ticket office closures and ensure there is always a manned ticket office at every station. In March 2010, TfL issued a press release heralding their vision of the Tube and basically there was a net reduction of 800 jobs. There were reductions in ticket offices. Nine out of ten ticket offices in London, many in outer London and many in outer east London have suffered cuts to ticket office opening hours. People will tell you that. They are noticing that there is nobody in their ticket office when they come through at weekends.

Jennette Arnold (Chair): I have a point of order?

James Cleverly (AM): Thank you, Chair. In the intervening minute between me raising my point of order and now, Ms Shawcross has at last drifted to something which has some semblance of relevance to outer London public transport. The whole initial part of her question was about walking and cycling and made no reference to outer London. The question that she raised was quite specific. It was about public transport in outer London and the whole opening few minutes of her intervention had nothing to do with either.

Jennette Arnold (Chair): But you were not listening to what the Mayor said because it was the Mayor --

James Cleverly (AM): He was responding to the question which was out of order.

Jennette Arnold (Chair): No, it was the Mayor who brought pedestrian issues in.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I was asked about pedestrians. I did not just produce the subject from nowhere.

Jennette Arnold (Chair): No, the question was put, there was a response and then there was a response to that.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Yes, I wanted to answer about cycling too.

Jennette Arnold (Chair): If I can just say to Members, if we could have maybe shorter specific questions, then there might be a hope that we would get shorter direct answers from the Mayor and we could then move on.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): If we could have sensibly phrased questions.

Jennette Arnold (Chair): You do not need to go into using pejorative terms. Can we just have a specific question, Assembly Member Shawcross?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Or a better question.

Valerie Shawcross (AM): I am trying to establish some facts, Chair. Nine out of ten ticket offices have suffered cuts and outer London residents particularly notice it because their Tube stations are quieter at night. You are now recruiting back 300 station assistant jobs after that huge loss of staff. Do you accept now that cutting staff in stations across London was a mistake? Do you think Londoners will be convinced that you have actually kept your pledge to keep ticket offices open because clearly you have not?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Yes, because all the ticket offices in outer London which had ticket offices retained their ticket offices and it is absolutely vital that if we are going to take this Tube network forward we engage in the serious and practical reforms that will enable us to cut costs and keep fares low. Quite frankly, for you to sit there and say that our programme of reform was wrong is absolutely absurd. The only way to improve our Tube system is to modernise. Frankly, we took tough decisions that you shirked when you were in office. As I said in my opening answer to you, the Tube network is now rated the safest in Europe. One of the reasons is obviously that we have banned alcohol. Another reason is that we have spent money to put an extra 697 uniformed officers on public transport. They are helping to drive down crime and to drive down fear of crime. I am very proud of that record.