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Comments

David

On the tubes - you state 'so there we have a tube policy', but simply saying that we want cleaner, more reliable tubes isn't really a policy, it's an aspiration. For a credible mayoral candidate, we need to see specific policies on how much money should go into the Underground and where it comes from. For example, can we justify massively above-inflation fare increases when there has been no demonstrable improvement in service in recent years? If not, where else can the money come from?

A Tory Mayor needs to address the apparent inconsistencies in the current transport policies - namely, encouraging of the public (via the congestion charge) to use the tube, with a tube system that can't cope with the number of people trying to use it.

Mark Wadsworth

All good stuff, keep it coming.

Scott

Absolutely agree about the Gatwick Express, which is again under threat. It is one of the very best train services in the country - fast, punctual and comfortable.

I am a commuter on that line and the idea of mixing commuters and airport passengers would be disasterous.

Martin (MayorWatch)

If you run tubes through the night surely you reduce the opportunities to carry out essential maintenance work?

What impact would the cost of wages for night staff have on overheads and fares?

I'm not convinced you could legally abolish the amber light either...

paul Newman

Who ever heard of a successful – but filthy – enterprise?

Demolition
Coal
Scrap Metal
Civil Engineering
Etc etc.

Its not all Consultancy and media work you know. You are Nic Boles aren’t you ? Instead of sitting around writing essays for teacher all day why don`t you try living and working in London with everyone else .Its not what is said its who says it . Anyone could come up with this sort of thing and by neglecting this problem you are missing the entire point of the Mayoral race which has little to do with his puny function and lots to do with a profile higher than most of the cabinet.

Whats next Litter ?

Phil Taylor

I am more than a little disappointed that ConHome has devoted five postings to this lightweight but wordy guff. Monday's summary showed no understanding of the powers of the Mayor, what he actually spends and what he merely influences. Tuesday's slagging of the Met did not seem particularly positive and did not address how little power the Mayor has over the Met. Today's analysis is super lightweight again with no mention made of TfL's inadequacy coupled with its £2 billion subsidy. The writer clearly doesn't know what a financial disaster the CC has been, taking £1 billion off Londoners over 4 years and wasting all of it on costs.

Aristiedes's bar room manifesto is not getting us very far. I would be surprised if even the lowliest peon in his private office would bother spending anytime reading these posts.

Nick Paget-Brown

The real problem on the Tube is capacity. You can't have bigger trains or longer platforms, so the only option is greater frequency of trains. This will be very expensive - especially if you have a 24 hour service which inhibits track and signal maintenance and upgrades.

Crossrail could relieve some of the burden but will need Treasury support. As it has already saddled London with a very expensive PPP, don't be too optimistic.

Comstock

You need to make your minds up over the C-charge. You've been dead against it for years, now you not only support it but want to extend it................

Nick Paget-Brown

The real problem on the Tube is capacity. You can't have bigger trains or longer platforms, so the only option is greater frequency of trains. This will be very expensive - especially if you have a 24 hour service which inhibits track and signal maintenance and upgrades.

Crossrail could relieve some of the burden but will need Treasury support. As it has already saddled London with a very expensive PPP, don't be too optimistic.

Cllr Nicholas Bennett

1. Buses

The cost of operating the buses has gone from a surplus when TfL was established to a budgeted one billion pound a year deficit in 2008. Parts of central London (Trafalgar Square and Whitehall spring to mind) have become bus to bus jams. The average number of passengers on an 80 capacity bus is just 14.4. Recently I spent 20 minutes between two stops in Whitehall, unable to get off as the driver kept the doors closed.

The new 'free' bus policy for teenagers has turned the top decks of suburban buses into mobile youth clubs and most people including many young people now refuse to go upstairs. SE London suffers particularly from vandalism with virtually every window scratched with 'tags'. This so called 'Dutch etching' also makes bus travel unattractive.

London Underground

A mixed picture.

Improvements are being made to what is essentially a Victorian infrastructure. Relatively short term improvements could be made by installing air conditioning on the tube lines (the deep level lines like the Bakerloo, Central). The Sub-surface lines like the Metropolitan and District are less in need of air conditioning.

Extending the platforms to take longer trains – particularly on the tube lines would be a very expensive option. Improved signalling on the Jubilee Line Extension was supposed to improve frequencies but has been a dismal failure. More R&D in this area could be the quickest way to increase capacity.

The Mayor's proposals for improving and extending the system - East London Line etc make sense and should be supported.

An extension to Camberwell Green and southwards for the Bakerloo has been on the cards since 1949.

Crossrail has been on the drawing boards for at least 25 years, a prototype train dating from 1983 complete with maps is on display in the London Transport Museum reserve collection. Crossrail, essentially London version of the Paris RER would help relieve the Central and Circle Lines.

Part of the problem is the very slow speed at which new rail projects in the UK are developed. The whole of the Central London deep tube network was built between the late 1890s and about 1910, less time than was taken to plan and build the Jubilee Line Extension.

Light rail and trolleybus schemes have been discussed for years yet to date only the Croydon Tramlink has been built mainly utilising ex heavy rail lines. In France new multi route light rail systems are built in 2-3 years.

River

Use of the river Thames for commuters has never really taken off. Part of the problem is the lack of convenient waterside access for sufficiently large numbers of commuters.

Traffic Management

Hand back most of the traffic management plus the budgets to the Boroughs. The money is taken by TfL and then doled back for PC schemes which fly in the face of local wishes. Develop (based on Kensington and Chelsea’s schemes 'shared space' which removes most traffic marking. The impact on road safety in Dutch tons has been dramatic with 30% falls in accidents as road users use their intelligence to negotiate with each other.

Overground – ‘heavy rail’

I can see merit in giving the Mayor a major say on overground rail services within the GLA boundary. His plans for improved station security, Oyster cards etc make sense. The problem comes on the main line services which stop at stations like East Croydon and Bromley South which are a mix of long distance Kent, Surrey and Sussex commuters and London travellers; however none of this is beyond the wit of man to solve.

London Salmon

Please let's be clear on what the Mayor can and cannot do. The Tube is locked into a 30 year funding and maintenence deal called the PPP. Anyone seeking to be Mayor who doesn't understand this concept should not bother. It is deal done directly between London Uunderground and the government, and delegates responsibility for upgrading the Tube to two private companies. LU can specify what they want done, above the original agreement, but the companies don't have to do it. Now, most of the time things do get done, but this isn't always the case.

As for 24 hour opening, this is impossible, because the only time essential engineering work can take place is overnight. Any proposal to open it for 24 hours, even via an express route, would fall flat on its face. The campaign would be on the defensive from the start.

The Mayor has no power over the Gatwick Express or the Heathrow Express. He can lobby, but he cannot promise to save anything. He also has little control over overground service, although TfL can provide grants. One exception is the North London Line, which TfL is running from this year.

The Mayor has no legal authority to abolish amber lights.

The Mayor has little authority over piers on the river (TfL run a few, but some key ones are privately owned).

The policy of keeping the c-charge is electorally sensible, given that no one believes we'd be able to scrap it. Although it needs serious alteration to be both effective and fair.

These ideas are positive ones, which is good. But they show a basic lack of understanding about the role of the Mayor. Yesterday's post about the police proposed things that the Mayor simply cannot do. He can't sack the Met police chief, he can't set operational policy. He can only fund.

These are flaws of the GLA Act 1999, which need amending. The Mayor is a New Labour creation, which means it resembles nothing which we Tories are familiar with.

To beat Ken we need to be positive, but also realistic.

aristeides

David - "simply saying that we want cleaner, more reliable tubes isn't really a policy, it's an aspiration."

No - the policy is to address the anomalies and comfort issues to deliver the better service. The principle runs throughout all these policies - tackling what can be tackled and then moving on - the process is dynamic and the end results are transformational. This is where we start.

"can we justify massively above-inflation fare increases when there has been no demonstrable improvement in service in recent years?"

I am proposing demonstrable improvement in service.

"A Tory Mayor needs to address the apparent inconsistencies in the current transport policies"

Why would the voters care? I think they would rather a cleaner, better tube but I may well be wrong.

Scott - re Gatwick Express - to think that a third or so of the visitors to the Olympics will land at Gatwick and have to make a merry trip via Redhill with local commuters is just too ridiculous, isn't it.

Martin - "If you run tubes through the night surely you reduce the opportunities to carry out essential maintenance work?"

I do not know how much maintenance is done on Friday and Saturday nights, I will admit. How much do you think is?

"What impact would the cost of wages for night staff have on overheads and fares?"

This question reveals a slightly outdated view of the economics of asset utilisation. What has the impact of this been on supermarkets which are open for 24 hours, for example?

"I'm not convinced you could legally abolish the amber light either..."

Does the amber light occupy a place in the constitution somewhere above the Lord Chancellor?

paul Newman - "Who ever heard of a successful – but filthy – enterprise?"

Fine, I should have said customer-facing enterprise. If you enjoy the squalor, bully for you.

Nick Paget-Brown - "The real problem on the Tube is capacity."

This is a given. I have no policy to increase the capacity; my policies focus on what can be done.

"You can't have bigger trains"

Pace what I said about capacity above, this is not strictly true and I believe slightly longer ones will be introduced on the District line in the coming years.

"Crossrail could relieve some of the burden"

I have avoided discussing Crossrail because all Mayoral candidates will have the same policy on it. I am focussing on distinctive policies.

Cornstock - Yes - accepting tha congestion charge is the only way forward. The capital has now been spent and voters will not accept scrapping it now. Also, congestion is a problem and a candidate with an alternative would have to find the funds for a different strategy. There is not the stomach for that now.

Nicholas Bennett - thank you for your detailed comments. A lot of what you say is possible but I would focus on what can easily be done to provide an acceptable level of service first.

On the question of fares and subsidies, the is clearly no magic wand that can be waved over either. We are where we are: we cannot have high fare increases or cuts nor vary the subsidy greatly without damaging electoral consequences. So we should concentrate on service improvement, starting with the issues I have highlighted above.

Martin (MayorWatch)

>> I do not know how much maintenance is done on Friday and Saturday nights, I will admit. How much do you think is? <<

Erm, aristeides you're the one advocating these 'policies' and yet it's increasingly clear that you haven't researched them. If you don't know much maintenance is done how can you put forward a policy of running the service on those nights?

aristeides

London Salmon - "Please let's be clear on what the Mayor can and cannot do."

I think this is the big bone of contention between us. I do not think the Mayor needs to be constantly referring to the rulebook about what he can and can't do on every single issue.

Let's take Ken Livingstone as an example. What is his brief for conducting international relations with countries like Venezuela and Cuba? Answer: none. Does that stop him? No. Is anyone going to stop him? No.

If our Mayor is going to stop at amber because the next light is red, he (or she) is not really worth his salt. As I said on the Safety thread about Ian Blair - if you are prepared to work with him, you have effectively lost all credibility on crime already - and it is that important.

Just the same with regard to the Heathrow and Gatwick Express. If the candidate is prepared to just throw up his hands about two such important strategic connections to London and say they are outside his ambit, then there is no point in entering this fight.

Yes - the Mayor will not win all these arguments. When he starts to win some, and people see the sense in what he advocates, believe me, the powers will come. Until then, the Mayor should get stuck into all these issues unashamedly and without fear. If he doesn't, who will?

aristeides

Martin - "Erm, aristeides you're the one advocating these 'policies' and yet it's increasingly clear that you haven't researched them. If you don't know much maintenance is done how can you put forward a policy of running the service on those nights?"

Erm, Martin. Why do you think I asked you how much maintenance is done? You referred to the "essential maintenance work" - tell me what it is and how many people are doing it on Friday and Saturday nights. Could they perhaps do it on other nights of the week? Have you thought of asking them why not? Is it really, absolutely beyond the realms of possibility that this could be done?

I think it is acceptable to put forward this policy - granted, with the appreciation that it might, for genuine reasons that I do not have the time to "research", not be possible, but I am not going to just take your word for it, I am afraid. You don't appear to know either.

Martin

>> Erm, Martin. Why do you think I asked you how much maintenance is done? <<

Because you have failed to research your 'policy' suggestion.

You can try to make an issue of whether I know how much maintenance is done but it just makes you look rather silly - I'm not proposing a policy, I'm doing what people on the doorsteps will do and asking you a question about your policy.

Don't you think answering them with "well I don't know - why don't you as TFL?" will look some degrees short of credible?

Comstock

Cornstock - Yes - accepting tha congestion charge is the only way forward. The capital has now been spent and voters will not accept scrapping it now.

Would you not be better offering a referendum on the future of the charge with four options

1) Scrapping it

2) Retaining only the Central zone, scrapping the western extension

3) Freezing the zone as it is.

4) Expanding further to (briefly outlineing other possible aeras)


Otherwise you will be in a situation where all three main parties are singing the same tune on this........

aristeides

Martin - I did not see the need to research how much maintenance is done on a Friday or Saturday night because I do not envisage that it is in insuperable obstacle in providing 24 hour transport on those nights. You raised it as an issue and then effectively said I had to disprove it. I don't have to. I do not and have never believed that there is "essential maintenance" that has to be done in those hours to the extent that the whole system has to be closed down. You do! That is why I asked you how much because I do not believe you can provide an answer. You are simply saying: here is my objection, based upon no facts whatsoever, now go ahead and disprove it. Talk about silly.

So, yes, on the doorstep, I would be prepared to say that I think it is possible to run the extended service I have described and if someone says "What about all the essential maintenance that Martin Mayorwatch keeps talking about but can't actually point to?" then I do not think I will have too many problems answering.

John Shaw

Honestly this is the biggest pile of nonsense I have seen. It's like a school homework project from someone who hasn't checked their facts.

As has been well-documented during the recent debate about running the tube later on Friday and Saturday nights, the PPP companies have a guaranteed amount of time during which they have access to the track and tunnels in order to carry out their maintenance work. London Underground has no power to arbitrarily change this. It either costs money to buy the Infracos out of this entitlement or you have to find the maintenance time from somewhere else, such as by opening the system later on other days.

One of the reasons why you cannot run a 24 hour service is that unlike other subway systems the Tube does not have parallel tracks in both directions. So if you are doing essential work to the track you do not have another track to run the trains on.

These are just elementary mistakes. It reflects a lack of real engagement with London and the issues confronting Londoners. It's like the earlier claim that the incoming mayor could sack the Police Commissioner. No they can't.

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