Transport for London

'Small minority' not following face covering rules - TfL

Tom Edwards

Transport Correspondent, BBC London

People wearing masks on Tube

Transport for London says there are "a small minority of people who refuse to comply" with the regulations about wearing face coverings on public transport in the capital.

Most people travelling on public transport in England must wear a face covering. Only those with certain health conditions, disabled people and children under the age of 11 are exempt from the rule.

According to TfL's latest figures, 53,900 people have been told to put a covering on, 4,888 have been asked to leave, and 244 £100 fines have been issued to those who were not wearing one since the rule was introduced.

Transport bosses said there was a "90-95 compliance" during peak hours "but that does dip over the course of the day".

New 24/7 bus lanes 'not enough' - bus driver

Local Democracy Reporting Service

London bus

London Bus drivers have welcomed the news that bus lanes will become 24/7, but some argue they should also have separate traffic lights for buses at busy junctions.

The capital’s bus lanes currently operate from 07:00 to 19:00, Monday to Sunday, with fines of up to £130 for drivers who enter them.

Announcing the change on 21 July, Transport for London (TfL) said the policy will bring about a “sustainable” economic recovery from the pandemic.

TfL hopes that encouraging people to use buses will make roads less busy, which in turn would make roads safer for cyclists and cause less pollution.

Joanne Harris, a bus driver whose route goes through south-west London, said her colleagues have wanted the change for years, but believe TfL could go further.

The 63-year-old, who is also a Unite trade union organiser, has called for bus lanes to continue up to busy junctions, to avoid buses having to merge into single lanes, as well as a separate set of traffic lights for the vehicles.

“Many people complain about the unreliability of buses, but is it any surprise when there’s so much traffic to compete with,” Ms Harris said.

TfL said a trial of the 24/7 bus lane policy will begin in “late summer” but official date has yet to be confirmed.

It is understood that TfL is less keen on the idea of having bus lanes at junctions because it worries this could cause problems for vehicles wishing to turn left across a bus lane.

Claire Mann, TfL’s director of bus operations, said: “Making bus journey times faster and more reliable, alongside enabling more people to walk and cycle, is more important than ever if London is to avoid a car-led recovery from coronavirus.”

She also said the transport body has another form of technology designed to help buses at 1,900 of junctions across London, which "automatically detects buses approaching and gives them an advantage by increasing the length of the green-light time if the bus is running behind schedule".

Crossrail delayed 'before pandemic'

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Crossrail workers
PA Media

Crossrail bosses are “not blaming” coronavirus for recently announced delays to the railway – admitting they were already behind schedule when the disease hit.

But the virus has made it impossible to recover lost time, they claim – despite a six week blitz of 24-hour work due to start tomorrow.

The central section of the Elizabeth line was due to open in summer next year – but scheme leaders have warned that will no longer be possible.

The rail link, which will connect Heathrow, Reading, Berkshire, and Shenfield, Essex, to central and south east London, was originally due to open in December 2018.

But it has suffered a series of delays and costs have spiralled, with the latest price tag as much as £18.25 billion.

The summer 2021 opening target has now been scrapped – and a new date will be announced next month, after the Crossrail board meets.

But chief executive Mark Wild said that the pandemic was just one factor in the hold up.

“We’re not blaming Covid for this,” he told a Transport for London (TfL) board meeting.

“It’s an epic obstacle course, Crossrail, and Covid is one of the many obstacles we’ve faced.

“On our schedule pressures we’d be the last people to hide behind Covid. The reality is when Covid happened we had maybe about two months schedule pressure already.”

Mr Wild admitted that project overseers Jacobs, an engineering consultancy firm, might have a higher estimate of delays up to four months.

Mum 'losing sleep' over end of free travel for children

Local Democracy Reporting Service

London bus

The loss of free bus travel for children could severely hit the pockets of families already struggling to make ends meet, parents have warned.

Cash-strapped Transport for London (TfL) is due to cut the free pass for children in September as part of the rescue deal as it faces an estimated £5bn loss due to the coronavirus crisis.

The government has agreed a bailout deal and TfL also has to look at ways of raising income, including raising the congestion charge by £3.50 to £15 and extending its hours from 07:00 to 10:00 daily.

One Westminster mother-of-three said the new bus charges could put a dent in her budget and could impact on children across the capital.

Lisa who lives in a Maida Vale council flat said: “I’ve been losing sleep over worrying about the extra fares and safety issues for my children and other children in the same situation.”

She signed a Child Poverty Action Group petition calling for a rethink on the charges, which 195,000 people have put their names to so far.

Lisa said: “It will impact everybody- if they want to go out on day trips or seeing their friends at the weekend which could be hard for people to afford.”

The mother-of-three qualified as a prescribing optician and has been doing locum work for the last few weeks.

She said she was bringing home around £15,000 after tax and it means there is little to spare after all the bills are paid. And she has to pay for after school club for her youngest son, aged 10, as she is unable to meet him straight from school because of her working hours.

London's Mayor Sadiq Khan previously called on the government to allow under 18s to continue to get free travel.

In response, a spokesperson for the Department for Transport said the government "was working constructively with TfL on ways to reduce demand on the network... including looking into the option of temporarily suspending free travel for under 18's".

Council 'frustrated' by postponed river crossing plans

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Previously proposed bridge
Original plans for a crossing were dropped in June 2019

Southwark Council has described the decision to pause work on the Rotherhithe/Canary Wharf crossing as “deeply frustrating”.

Transport for London (TfL) initially had plans for a walking and cycling bridge to “create a much needed route across the Thames in east London”, but shelved the idea last year over financial problems.

A new fast ferry service was proposed instead, but newly published budget papers from TfL said the scheme is “currently unaffordable in the context of other walking and cycling priorities” in the wake of Covid-19.

It is unclear when or if the plans will resume.

Responding to the news, Johnson Situ, Southwark Council’s cabinet member for growth, development, said “such schemes should be prioritised not paused”.

"The Rotherhithe to Canary Wharf crossing would provide a vital new route over the Thames in an under-served part of London and would mean more people can choose walking and cycling," he added.

A TfL spokesperson said: “We remain committed to improving river crossings in east London, particularly for sustainable modes.

“However, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on our finances, particularly passenger income, means that our revised budget inevitably involves very difficult choices having to be made.

“While we are doing what we can to continue the vital capital investment which will help London recover from the pandemic, in the current climate some projects will have to be paused, including the Rotherhithe to Canary Wharf crossing, as we seek a long-term sustainable funding settlement with government.”

South Kensington Station development plans shelved

Local Democracy Reporting Service

South Kensington Station drawing
Native Land

The revamp of South Kensington Station has been put on pause by Transport for London due to its funding problems that have arisen from the coronavirus pandemic.

A report released on Friday by TfL said this was because the cost of the projects has “exceeded original project funding”.

The improvements to the station, which were given planning permission in 2018, included:

  • A revival of the station’s north-side platform
  • A redesign of its main ticket hall
  • Replacing it canopy

A separate planning application was submitted in June by TfL, in a joint partnership with Native Land, to redevelop buildings connected to the station in Thurloe Street and Pelham Street, and a new entrance from Thurloe Street.

A TfL spokesperson said this will be unaffected by today’s announcement.

A statement from TfL said its finances were stable before the pandemic. It said it had made savings of £1bn and had cash reserves of more than £2bn.

Since the lockdown, TfL has lost fare revenue from the huge fall in people using public transport, which looks set to continue.

The government responded by pumping £1.6bn into TfL, plus a £300m loan which will last it until October.

TfL said it will need £3.2bn across the 2020/21 financial year to stay afloat, and £2.9bn for 2021/22.

Among the major projects that TfL says it will continue are:

  • Upgrades to Bank Station
  • The Northern Line extension to Battersea and Nine Elms
  • New trains on the Piccadilly Line