Thursday, August 31, 2006

Congestion Down, but Traffic no Faster

It's official - you can reduce congestion without speeding journeys up, honest. Livingstone reveals the Holy Grail in this reply to Conservative leader Angie Bray:

Angie Bray: In section 1.2 (of the congestion charge annual report), it is stated that one of your key transport priorities is "to improve journey reliability for car users". Given that the average speed in the zone is now only 10mph, and that the report admits that the small gains made have been as a result of reduced queuing times, "rather than increases in driving speeds", is this priority being met?

Ken Livingstone: Congestion in urban areas is mainly in the form of queues at junctions. It is this that mainly determines journey time reliability, rather than actual driving speeds per se. Therefore, TfL's congestion charging targets precisely that element of delay that contributes most to unreliable journeys.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Spot the Bendy Part 2

Bus routes 25 and 86 run on similar routes in East London. Which uses articulated vehicles? (answer in the final paragraph of TfL's response).

Roger Evans: What was the level of fare evasion and ridership on the routes 25 and 86 since June 2005? What is the estimated level of revenue loss?

Ken Livingstone: There were approximately 20,300,000 passenger journeys made on route 25 during the financial year 2005/06 and approximately 10,200,000 made on route 86 during this same period. The revenue loss is as follows:

Route 25
Surveyed fare evasion rate 7%
Estimated revenue loss £62K - £73K

Route 86
Surveyed fare evasion rate 2.3%
Estimated revenue loss £10K - £12K

(estimated revenue loss calculated by: passengers per month x average fare paid x average % detected irregularity)

Articulated buses were introduced on route 25 in order to accommodate greatly increased demand. If TfL had introduced a greater number of smaller buses the cost of the service would have been more than the loss in revenue caused by higher fare evasion on articulated buses.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Minimum Wage for Birds

Here's another example of unusual GLA spending, uncovered by my colleague Bob Neill. At least the involvement of Westminster Council has saved on the hourly rate.

Bob Neill: Is spending £46,280 on providing a hawk to fly in Trafalgar Square really a priority use of taxpayers' money?

Ken Livingstone: Pigeon infestation was identified as a major problem for Trafalgar Square, representing a potential health issue as well as a major deterrent to visitors. It also has serious implications in terms of the damage to the historic fabric of the site.

The flying of a hawk was introduced as part of an overall strategy that has significantly reduced pigeon numbers on the Square. This strategy also included a controlled feeding programme, public education and proactive action by the Heritage Wardens. The hawk has proved to be a successful part of this package of measures.

The reduction of the number of pigeons on the Square has greatly improved the local environment. The result has been to make the square morehygienicc for everyone, to improve the space for the events that are held throughout the year - and to reduce the cost required to clean the listed architecture and street furniture in the square.

Pigeon reduction is just a small part of the large programme undertaken by the Squares management team to ensure the smooth running of Trafalgar and Parliament Squares.

By retendering the contract incollaborationn with Westminster Council, the cost for the hawk has gone down from an average of £50 to £38.75 per hour.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Spot the Bendy

Routes 53 and 453 travel similar routes, but one of them uses articulated vehicles with multiple points of entry. No prizes for guessing which one (answer in the final paragraph).

Roger Evans: What was the level of fare evasion and ridership on routes 53 and 453 since June 2005? What is the estimated level of revenue loss?

Ken Livingstone: There were approximately 10,700,000 passenger journeys made on route 53 during the financial year 2005/06 and approximately 10,500,000 made on route 453 during this same period. The revenue loss is as follows:

Route 53
Surveyed fare evasion 2.3%
Estimated revenue loss £11K - £13K

Route 453
Surveyed fare evasion 6.8%
Estimated revenue loss £31K - £37K

(estimate reached by: passengers per month x average fare paid x average % irregularity)

Route 453 was introduced in order to relieve crowding on route 53 in a cost effective way, hence the use of articulated buses, which can carry more passengers than any other bus. If TfL had enhanced the frequency of route 53 instead, the additional cost of the smaller buses would have been more than the revenue loss caused by higher fare evasion on the articulated buses.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Now Bikes are a Security Risk

Here's an interesting question from Green member Jenny Jones. Usually Livingstone would take this opportunity to quash a bizarre rumour, but no such clarity in this case....

Jenny Jones: Can you squash the unattributable rumour that bikes will be banned from the Olympic site as a security risk?

Ken Livingstone: The ODA and LOCOG will consider use of cycles within the Olympic Park from a user safety perspective, and from a security viewpoint. No decisions on this have yet been made.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Remove Those Bus Lanes at Your Peril....

This response to a question from the Liberal chairman of the transport committee shows how Livingstone threatens boroughs that disagree with him. The implication is clear - if they suspend two bus lanes on their own roads TFL will withdraw their funding for other projects. The phrasing of the question also tells us something about the Liberal attitude to local democracy. Expect to see more conflict with more boroughs falling out of Labour control....

Geoff Pope: Following the decision by Ealing's new Tory council to suspend bus lanes in Yeading and Northolt, will you object to the proposal using your powers under section 291 of the GLA Act 1999 on the grounds that it affects GLA roads, and if necessary proceed to a public inquiry?

Ken Livingstone: Peter Hendy has already written to the leader of Ealing council urging them to take a different course of action and making clear that this will impact on future funding decisions. TfL expects Ealing to formally notify them of any proposal to remove the bus lanes in question.

TfL has offered to meet with officers of Ealing urgently to resolve this issue. If it cannot be satisfactorily resolve I will consider all options available to me.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Fare Evasion

August is a quiet month at City Hall, so here's an opportunity to look at some of the responses from mayor's question time in July. We've been trying to establish the level of fare evasion on TFL's articulated buses - with three doors the temptation not to pay is clearly too much for some passengers (note that average fare evasion across the whole bus network is 0.92%):

Roger Evans: What was the level of fare evasion on bendy buses during the months of June and July 2006? What is the estimated level of revenue loss?

Ken Livingstone: Total detected fare evasion on bendy bus routes for June 2006 was averaged at 1.42%. This gives an estimated revenue loss of approx £80,000. This is calculated from the estimated total number of journeys made on articulated bus routes during this period (10,870,000) and assuming each passenger paid an average of 0.52p.

July figures are not yet available.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

City Hall Blog Open for Business

Welcome to the City Hall blog. This will feature some of the more interesting and revealing information from London's devolved government. Every month City Hall publishes hundreds of replies from Mayor's question time, scrutiny findings and press releases and sorting the nuggets from the deluge of material is challenging - so I'm off on my search.