Memorandum by the Corporation of London
1.1 In response to the Environment, Transport
and Regional Affairs Committee's request for a written submission
on the Government's recently circulated Transport White Paper,
the Corporation of London wishes to make the following comments:
1.2 London benefits from a mature and high level
of public transport provision but, due to severe peak hour overcrowding,
particularly approaching the centre, improvements over and above
those already planned are needed. The principal highway network
is saturated with traffic and the only real hope of achieving
the outcomes espoused in the White Paper is by the early introduction
of measures which would increase the use of public transport and
reduce the overall demand on the highway.
1.3 The Corporation is willing to work in partnership
with Government and the neighbouring boroughs to develop proposals
to facilitate this objective.
2.1 On a typical working day, the City employs
between 240,000 and 270,000 people in an area of approximately
one and a quarter square miles. This high concentration of employees
has only been possible within the City due to the nature of the
public transport access infrastructure. Some 96 per cent of this
workforce regularly get to their place of employment within the
City by modes other than private car; the vast majority using
rail transport and completing the journey on foot.
2.2 On an average weekday, some 250,000 vehicles
enter the City. In context this intense level of vehicle-based
demand is higher than that on the busiest sector of the M25, but
is not segregated physically from the adjacent land uses. To an
overwhelming extent most of this traffic has little direct relevance
to commerce in the City. The proportion of these trips that are
associated with the City in one form or another rarely exceeds
30 per cent, with the remainder consisting of through movements.
Most traffic in the City of London, (some 70 per cent to 80 per
cent), has its origin or destination within Central London and
it is therefore of relevance to the economic prosperity of that
2.3 Over time there have been continuing increases
in traffic demand across the country and, to a lesser extent,
in Central London. If that continues, there is a particular risk
of through traffic displacing or suppressing the local element
as a result of increased congestion on a highway network of fixed
capacity. Unless positive traffic management control is exercised,
this increasing congestion would impede the normal working of
the City and other Central London businesses.
2.4 With a road network based on a medieval
street pattern, and with only limited changes brought about as
a result of post Second World War opportunity, the highway network
available to service commerce in the City has to be achieved within
a fixed capacity. We believe this capacity to be around 250,000
per day and the network reaches a constant saturated position
for the duration of the working day. This position has remained
constant over time as the table below indicates:
|Daily Traffic Entering the City (not the Environmental Zone) 1990-1997
3.1 The Corporation of London has changed the whole pattern
of vehicle movement within the City in one simple act through
the original Traffic and Environmental Zone, which was put into
operation in 1993. This adjusted the road network within the City
so that through traffic could be separated from local traffic.
3.2 It was achieved by 22 street closures and adjustments
to one-way street working to concentrate access traffic to the
core at eight easily controllable locations. As a consequence
daily traffic levels within the core were reduced by some 40,000
vehicles. The Zone was highly successful, and the Corporation
therefore enlarged it by a further 40 per cent in 1997. However,
with current and predicted increases in demand for road travel,
new steps which would contain or reduce that demand must now be
3.3 To date, all our efforts as the highway authority have
concentrated on managing the supply of road capacity on a total
network basis. Traffic and environment management techniques applied
so far have enabled us to cope with existing levels of demand,
simply by separating different traffic elements (the local and
through traffic) and containing them within the existing City
highway network. New environmental considerations from the Rio
Earth Summit, along with public health expectations resulting
from the Environment Act 1995 on air quality improvements, have
meant that we, along with our immediate neighbours, will find
it almost impossible to meet expectations of sustainability with
the existing traffic levels. We should now be concentrating on
ways of reducing the level of traffic rather than finding ways
of accommodating expected increases.
3.4 The Road Traffic Reduction Act 1997 and the Transport
White Paper, seek to reduce traffic levels in town centres. Furthermore
the London Planning Advisory Committee, in the context of a strategic
overview for London, is developing advice which currently suggests
that road traffic levels should be reduced by 30 per cent40
per cent for the centre of London. None of these objectives appear
to be achievable, unless some positive restraining system is put
in place by the relevant Highways Authorities, accompanied by
a parallel increase in the provision of public transport.
4.1 The Government's White Paper on the Future of Transport"A
New Deal for Transport: Better for Everyone" is a wide-ranging
document which sets out the transport framework for the next generation.
The Corporation of London agrees with the broad sentiments expressed
by John Prescott in his foreword to the White Paper. In this,
we believe that the Government seeks a better, more integrated,
transport system to tackle congestion and pollution, emphasising
the importance of public transport and giving increased personal
choice by providing alternatives to the private car and by enabling
forms of mobility that are sustainable in the long-term.
4.2 Central London in general and the City of London in particular
already benefit from a concentrated supply network of diverse
public transport service. The area is seen as an excellent place
in which to conduct business. However, as the White Paper acknowledges
(Paragraph 4.92-4.99) significant levels of congestion and pollution
place a burden on business and lower the quality of life for the
people who live and work there.
4.3 The mature and high levels of the existing public transport
service can be improved upon. Rail projects are expensive with
high lead-in times, whereas bus prioritisation schemes can be
delivered more easily. However, existing traffic management measures
and techniques will be insufficient to deliver the intentions
of the integrated transport strategy.
4.4 In the longer term, Government proposals to enable local
authorities to raise extra revenue, after consultation withe the
electorate, may provide and way of helping to deal with some of
the problems of traffic congestion.
5.1 The intensity of commerce and movement resulting from
the economic dynamism of the Square Mile makes the need for a
managed, integrated approach to transport especially important
for this local authority.
5.2 Our comments relate to the practicalities and challenges
that need to be addressed in attempting to reduce traffic volumes
on the public highway, whilst retaining an effective working environment.
We concentrate on the issues that would need to be addressed prior
to the introduction of any scheme which discourages the use of
the road network. In the particular case of the City of London,
we are fortunate in already having an area-wide traffic and environmental
strategy. Building on this experience, we believe that possible
future opportunities for initiatives have been identified to encourage
a greater use of public transport.
6.1 The Corporation of London's existing Traffic and Environmental
Zone (paragraphs 4.1-4.3) and the technology in place may help
provide the means to assess new ways of controlling or reducing
traffic flows. We have already offered to initiate research to
assess the practicality of using the zone for that purpose and
would do so in close consultation with our neighbours, to ensure
that all relevant considerations were taken into account before
any new proposals were piloted within the area.
6.2 London already has experience of permit systems to control
the access and routeing of lorries and London authorities also
have extensive experience of on-street parking control and of
running the enforcement systems to dealing with stationary vehicles.
6.3 Time is of the essence and we do not want to see the
attractiveness of London and the City as a place in which to do
business diminished. There exists an opportunity to test the effectiveness
of further constraints on traffic prior to the creation of the
new Greater London Authority.
6.4 THE CITY,
the experience of a highway authority and a travelling
public used to adjustment and who have intense travel demands;
direct experience and expertise of major successful
network and traffic management changes;
controlled entry to an existing pre-defined zone;
a potential enforcement mechanism of a camera
system that is already in place;
extensive traffic monitoring systems;
a politically neutral environment.
7.1 The Corporation would be willing to work with the Government
and neighbouring boroughs to develop a pilot scheme in the City.
Developing proposals now could provide a strong foundation for
the new Mayor for London and Greater London Authority and also
be of assistance to the Department of the Environment, Transport
and the Regions.