Examination of Witnesses (Questions 160
WEDNESDAY 23 OCTOBER 2002
160. The obsession with the London Underground
often overlooks the problems of people in south-east London. Given
that you have said this is largely targeted at commuters from
outer London areaswhich is constituencies like my ownNetwork
South East is already running at over-capacity at peak times.
There is no more room on the trains; the electricity supply cannot
take longer trains so there is no scope there for creating any
extra capacity. There are pinch points at Lewisham and at London
Bridge that prevent any extra trains being put on. What contingency
have you made for constituencies like mine for people to switch
to public transport?
(Mr Turner) Our forecast during the morning peak hour
from the southern area which, by our definition, includes the
south-east area, is for an hourly transfer to buses of 2,450 passengers.
We are expecting to provideand will be providing2,660
passenger spaces. So, as I said earlier, we are providing in the
order of 10 to 20 per cent more capacity than we are expecting
to need as a result of congestion charging on the buses.
161. And that extra capacity matches the types
of journey that people want to do. I mean, if it is a local hopper
bus that is being put on then that may not actually serve the
(Mr Turner) It matches our best estimate of the type
of travel that they would be replacing. Because it is buses we
have the flexibility to be able to adjust the service provision
to more match it in the light of experience. That is not quite
so easily achieved in terms of rail, as you rightly say, because
of some of the network constraints that are there.
162. Mr Kiley, on that?
(Mr Kiley) If I could add one point, and it is a possibility
at this point, it needs to be investigated; it will not be done
by the time congestion charging starts, but it could be done within
the next 12 to 24 months. We are going to review the entire bus
network which has not really been done in a thorough way for half
a century. With the rapid increase in demand and with the ridership
numbers that are showing, we need to be able to control costs
and one way to do that is to prune roots that are not really doing
very well because the city has changed over the last 50 years.
One thing I believe we need to look atand south London
comes to mind hereis whether express services of some sort
are an idea that is long overdue in London. When you raise this
people immediately say, "Well the street system here is crazy.
It is not a grid system like New York, say, or Paris and therefore
these ideas cannot work". I am not so sure that is the case
as I am getting more and more familiar. I think this is particularly
true of south London. There may be opportunities here of more
rapid service and longer journeys and I think we have to take
a very careful look at that. It will not happen by 17 February,
but it can happen within a reasonable period time so that people
will have options.
163. That is an encouraging note, Mr Kiley.
Mr Turner, can I ask you, do you really think you can justify
including Kennington Road and Newington and leaving Kensington,
the King's Road and Knightsbridge out of the scheme?
(Mr Turner) Yes.
(Mr Turner) Because the scheme needed to be readily
understandable at the start.
165. I am sure it is understood by the people
of south London who are in the scheme and the people of Kensington
who are not.
(Mr Turner) It needs to have a by-pass route. We want
the deterrent to be the charge, not the road network, not the
administration and so the by-pass to central Londonthe
Mayor having decided it should be centred on central Londonis
the Inner Ring Road. It is largely an accident of history that
the Inner Ring Road runs through Kennington, but it does. It is
on all the maps that it is the Inner Ring Road, all the atlases,
so as a first stage it is the logical boundary. However, as the
Mayor has indicated, if the scheme is successful he is likely
to ask us to look at extending it further to the west, in particular,
and to the east, because both Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea
and Tower Hamlets have indicated that they would rather be in
the area than outside. Indeed, many of the Kennington residents
themselves said they would rather be in the area than outside.
As a logical understanding of the scheme I can feel happy that
the Mayor chose the Inner Ring Road. As a second stage I think
he could, if you like, take in more of the affluent areas to the
west of London.
166. Can I put to both of you something which
seems to me really rather important. We have heard evidence this
afternoon from previous witnesses about a number of possible schemes
which mightor might notinclude all NHS workers;
it might look for an alternative through the education system
of dealing with the role of teachers and nursery teachers; presumably,
also, this new breed of assistants that we are going to have.
All of those exemptions are really very considerable in central
London. Do you not consider that what you may be doing is shifting
some of the cost of this scheme on to other agencies and other
groups, and how would you justify that?
(Mr Turner) What we have tried to doand, in
fact, the Mayor asked us to look, as he indicatedis look
at a number of alternative ways of dealing with key workers. We
spent a lot of time looking at key workers and the low paid. The
problem is one that the system we are introducing is not as flexible
as colleagues from Bristol indicated in terms of electronic road
pricing (which is a much more flexible system). We believe that
the system we have introduced is fit for purpose. We believe we
can actually manage what we are doing and we think through careful
use of the descriptions we have adopted many of the requirements
that the Mayor has put upon us and the public has put upon us
in terms of exemptions and discounts. Perhaps not all of them.
There will always be some people who feel dissatisfied and indeed
the scheme is meant to act as a deterrent to people to travel.
The point that the Mayor madewhich I think is a very important
pointthat the improvements that we are making to public
transport, in advance of the scheme going ahead, have to be taken
into account. The night bus service is substantially
167. Mr Turner, I have great admiration for
night buses, but last time I went on one from here I got proposed
to by a drunk. I mean, he would have to be drunk. I nearly accepted
too. Frankly there are large numbers of women who, having had
an eight hour shift, are just not going to fight their way onto
a night bus, whereas before maybe four or five of them have crammed
into some broken down old car. Are you going to put a considerable
burden on those people?
(Mr Kiley) I think your point about night service
is well taken, that people fear to use it because they are worried
about exactly the situation that you found yourself in. We have
this Transport Police Initiative moving now. It is principally
during daylight hours but our intention, if this worksand
by every sign it is working at this pointwe will extend
this in the next fiscal year to routes at night where there will
be police on and around buses, particularly at sensitive bus stops
and bus shelters where people are worried about the environment.
I think that police presence which began in June is already showing;
people who know it is there are being encouraged to use the service
and on the routes where it is present and deployed, very mobile
and very visible we are getting increases in ridership that go
beyond what is coming just from the investment in the service.
Your point is well taken and we have to be able to respond to
that security challenge at nights.
(Mr Turner) Another point, if I could add, Chairman,
is that the Mayor has indicated to me that he would quite like
us to be able to migrate the system to electronic road pricing
if only the government would actually come up with a specification
that would enable us to use smartcard technology in London. Much
of the system that we have designed, in my view and my understanding
of what is likely to emerge at some stage from the government,
will by useable in that environment.
168. There you have sent some interesting hares
running. Finally, what measures are you going to introduce to
make sure there is sufficient car parking at mainline railway
(Mr Turner) The question of mainline railway station
car parking is a very interesting one in terms that it is managed
by Network Rail now (I think that is right) and therefore outside
of our direct control. One of the other issues that we have is
the park and ride type facilities within London. We have had a
policy of being concerned about because we do not really want
people to actually make their journeys by car anyway. We think,
if they are going to park, they should not actually split their
journeys, they should actually park at their home station, so
that would be in the home counties. We are concerned that on-street
parking, in terms of rail-headingas Mr Brake was indicatingshould
be prevented and, as the Commissioner has indicated, we have already
made funds availableand will continue to make funds available
next yearto protect residential areas from rail-heading
on mainline intermediate stations.
169. You talked to the local authorities about
the existing physical restraints they have got, have you? Have
you taken account of the fact that boroughs already have their
individual policies on some form of physical restraints?
(Mr Turner) Sorry, I am not clear what you mean by
170. What London First said was that success
of congestion charging will be undermined if congestion is increasing
for other reasons, especially action taken by local authorities
to restrict the capacity of the network.
(Mr Turner) Absolutely. We are anxious that the network
as a whole operates well and particularly, as Mr Grayling said,
in terms of the bus routes; that we do actually get the bus system
to operate properly. In terms of the network around the congestion
charging area we are working very closely with the local authorities
to ensure that diversionary routes around the area are on appropriate
roads so that the residential roads are protected. Also, the management
of those main roads are improved to ensure that diversionary traffic
can make the movements necessary.
171. And you are also planning for a different
set of contingencies if inter-urban charging comes in.
(Mr Turner) If inter-urban charging takes place I
think we would need to look very carefully again. But I hope that
inter-urban charging would be associated with a more sophisticated
approach to smartcard technology or GPS which is the type of migration
path that I was talking about earlier in one of my earlier replies.
172. I can see various firms are going to be
very delighted with some of your suggestions, Mr Turner. Thank
you both very much. We are always pleased to see you, Mr Kiley,
whatever you are discussing you bring a little ray of light.
(Mr Kiley) Thank you Chairman. You have made my day.