Transport is the single biggest task for the Mayor of London. Sadiq Khan has so comprehensively failed at this task that the government has been forced to step in, bail him out to the tune of £1.6 billion, and prevent him from doing further damage. This failure was a long time coming; TfL was in trouble long before coronavirus and much of the blame can be laid at Sadiq Khan’s door.
From his ill-advised fares freeze, which has cost £640 million so far and benefits tourists rather than London’s commuters, to his lack of interest in Crossrail – running more than £3 billion over-budget, three years behind schedule, and with almost £1 billion in lost fares – he has demonstrated that he simply is not capable of managing London’s transport network. We feel the effects of this in South West London.
Richmond’s road network was thrown into chaos in April 2019 with the sudden closure of Hammersmith Bridge. Roads became choked with traffic across the whole of South West London as, overnight, a four-and-a-half mile stretch of the Thames became impassable to motor vehicles. More than a year later, very little progress has been made. A viable scheme for a temporary crossing was dismissed. The Mayor shows no urgency and no empathy for residents and businesses on both sides of the river struggling with this difficult situation, including those residents trying to access Charing Cross Hospital for emergencies.
Sadly, this is not the only transport problem in Richmond. Like many other boroughs, Richmond is due to be divided by the ULEZ expansion in October 2021. Residents who can’t afford to upgrade their cars will find themselves paying £12.50 every day to cross the boundary. Not everyone can use public transport to get to work and many people rely on the use of a vehicle for their livelihood.
Addressing air quality and reducing pollution levels are without question urgent and vital tasks but we must take an efficient approach and lead with the carrot, not the stick. The Mayor should address his own bus fleet – one of the biggest contributors to pollution in London – and use the hundreds of millions the ULEZ expansion will cost to make the fleet zero-emission instead.
Commenting, Nicholas Rogers, Greater London Assembly Candidate for Richmond, Hounslow and Kingston, said:
“I have spent almost my entire career in public transport. I started out on the TfL graduate scheme back in 2007 and since 2011 I have worked for Network Rail. I’ve been a manager of Waterloo Station and for almost five years I have been an Incident Controller, working at the sharp end of transport operations.
“My experience in transport – along with my experience as a former Metropolitan Police Special Constable – is what drove me to stand for election to the Assembly in the first place. Working at Transport for London gave me first-hand knowledge of that great behemoth. The organisation requires constant, rigorous, probing political oversight. It cannot be left to its own devices and it cannot be run as a political tool.
“The Mayor has provided ample evidence for this. As Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan has immense power, vast resources, and enormous influence, yet on these and too many other issues, he shows no leadership and seeks only to evade responsibility.
“There is a vacuum at the heart of City Hall. The consequences are felt across London, as pressing concerns such as those above go unresolved. London needs change, urgently. We need Shaun Bailey in City Hall; someone who wants to be Mayor, not because he sees it as means of self-promotion and aggrandisement, but because he is deeply passionate about London and wants to make it a better city for all people.”