LondonUnlocked

Transport Manifesto | Introduction

LondonUnlocked, Transport ManifestoEditor

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This is the introduction to a series of articles which will run throughout August, written in collaboration by LondonSays and LondonUnlocked, examining the future of transport in London.

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The move by Alistair Darling, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to set up a working group examining how best to maintain London's pre-eminence as a global financial centre is both good policy and good politics. It is such good politics in fact that Boris Johnson has taken the same tack. It promises an interesting spectacle - the Chancellor being advised privately on what the City needs, whilst the Mayor publicly lobbies for the same changes.

Such contact, however, should be applauded. The City needs the Mayor and the Chancellor to be receptive to their needs - after all, London as a whole provides nearly a fifth of the UK's GDP. However, perhaps for fear of being viewed as London-centric, or in employing false economies in trying to tempt big-business away from London and to the UK's second and third cities, the Government has a habit of not paying attention - CrossRail being but the most visible example of this.

The recent mayoral election provided the City with a soapbox to speak up, and speak it did. Many organisations issued manifestos or challenges of their own, with the CBI's London Business Manifesto perhaps the most direct challenge to the mayoral candidates.

Writing in April for LondonSays' Alternative Manifesto, I flagged up some of the issues which the CBI and other members of the business community had concentrated on:

Transport is key to the sustainability of the London economy. Effective public transport is vital for both highlighting London’s case as a business hub, and for realising productivity. The Mayor must continue investment in infrastructure and the delivery of major projects.

Those challenges have not receded, and in some areas have grown more acute. London still faces an uncertain transport future. The base element of London travel, the Oyster card, has been shown to fail whilst numbers continue to increase on the Tube and TfL's tentacle services. CrossRail - the first major capital project introduced into London in decades - will, by 2017, be at near-capacity.

There are numerous steps which the Mayor and Government need to take to ensure the City's and London's pre-eminence. Some require pledging funds for significant capital projects. Others are more simple - getting services to work together, re-time-tabling and planning around and before major new developments.

A full slate of TfL linked projects are currently on the Mayor's books - CrossRail, Tube upgrades, the Olympic transport plan, East London Line extensions to name but a few - and it is clear that a good relationship with business will be necessary for any new major projects to be given the go ahead before 2017.

This series will examine the steps which the Mayor and Government should be taking in building a new London from the streets and buildings which already exist. Beyond that aim, it will look at new projects, and suggestions for their delivery.

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On Monday 4th, our second article will examine urban planning, and the role of transport in ensuring a better environment for work and home life. After that, an article will follow every other day, finally being collected by LondonSays as a manifesto of sorts.

Check back here on Monday to see the next step in the Transport Manifesto.