Buses are slowing down, and not just in central London

busesTwo of London’s slowest bus routes are not through the city centre but 17 miles to the east, in Hornchurch in the borough of Havering.

Central London congestion is blamed for the slow down in buses, now running at an average speed or 9.3 mph.  But the 650 and 656 buses, both leaving from Emerson Park School are running at just 6 miles per hour and are among the 10 slowest routes run by Transport for London in the last financial year.

656 bus route

656 bus route: Google maps via TfL

650 bus route

650 bus route: Google maps via TfL

Data from TfL for average bus speeds for April 2015 to March 2016 shows that the slowest route is the 15H from Charing Cross to the Tower of London. But the H in the title gives a clue as to why.  This is a heritage route with original Routemaster buses running along part of the course of the proper 15, along The Strand, Fleet Street, Ludgate Hill and on to the Tower.  The tourists on board may appreciate its slow pace as they edge past St Paul’s.

TfL runs 675 routes and tracks the speed of buses each way along them, plus night buses.   Of the 1762 bus routes speeds recorded for the last financial year, 563 were below the 9.3 mph average.  Most of the slowest journeys cross central London.

London’s 10 slowest buses
Number Route Speed (mph)
15H Charing Cross to Tower 4.9
15H Tower to Charing Cross 5.1
14 Putney Heath to Warren St Station 5.6
11 Liverpool St Station to Fulham Broadway 5.6
650 Emerson Park School to Cedar Hill, Hornchurch 5.9
11 Fulham Broadway to Liverpool St Station 5.9
26 St Mary of Eton, Hackney to Waterloo Station 6.0
69A Canning Town to Walthamstow Bus Station 6.0
38 Clapton Pond to Victoria Bus Station 6.1
656 Emerson Park School to Gallows Corner, Hornchurch 6.1

Speeds are calculated across the full range of the route and many buses will have a much more varied pace as they cross parts of the city.  Looking at speeds across the boroughs shows that the centre is uniformly slow but things get better the further out you get.

Havering is one of the few areas where average speeds get above 12 mph despite having 2 of the slowest buses.

Average bus speeds

In a recent report the former chairman of the government’s panel on integrated transport, Professor David Begg, said that bus speeds are declining faster in London than any other urban area in the country. He says that the decision by the previous mayor, Boris Johnson, to reduce road capacity by 25% with the introduction of cycle superhighways without any measures to curtail traffic is partly to blame.

The new mayor, Sadiq Khan, has made buses a priority in his first weeks in office.  As he mentioned throughout his campaign, his father used to drive the 44.  His first act as mayor was to introduce the Hopper fare and he has announced a general freeze in prices. Londoners welcome cheaper travel. Making it faster may be a much bigger challenge.

Source data

See also

Mayoral Election Issues: Public Transport

Don’t just blame drivers for harmful NO2 pollution

All aboard! Big growth in public transport use in past 5 years






Mayoral Election Issues: Public Transport

Taxi Bus Tube-2-1London has 19,000 bus stops, 270 Underground stations, 83 Overground stations and 45 DLR stations.  So you’d think that public transport would be pretty convenient for people right across the city. Well, not necessarily.

For inner city dwellers public transport is the obvious way to get around.  The best access to public transport, measured by Transport for London[1], is for the residents of the City of London.  But all the outer London boroughs score below average.

Urbs has mapped the TfL index which measures access to public transport across the city to show the borough variations.  Predictably, those in central London have the easiest access.  The average score on the index for the whole of London is 3.8. In the City of London it is 7.9 and in Westminster 6.5.  The poorest scores are on the eastern and western edges of the capital, in Havering and Hillingdon.

Public Transport Map 1-2

The index measures the number, reliability, waiting times and walking distances for public transport in a neighbourhood.  It does not take account of the speed, ease of connections or number of people using a service.  The index uses 9 level of public transport access.  All the residents of the City of London are in the top 2 levels. More than half the residents of Hillingdon are in the bottom 3.  The worst place in Hillingdon for public transport access is Harefield ward, home to the eponymous hospital.  All 7,399 residents of the ward fall into the bottom 3 levels for public transport access.

The outer areas of London that have low scores for public transport access have the highest level of car ownership. There are 2.71 million cars and light goods vehicles in London[2].  Ownership is low in inner London areas and highest in Havering and Hillingdon with 49 cars per 100 people.

Public Transport Map 2-2

Car ownership has gone up a little in the past 12 months but the trend over the past 5 years has been down.  Over the same period there has been a big jump in the use of public transport, growing at twice the rate of population growth[3].  In the past 5 years the number of journeys taken on the Transport for London system of Tube, train, tram and bus has gone up by 14% while the population has risen by half that rate.

The number of people in inner London, who may be more reliant on public transport, has grown slightly faster than the rate for the capital as a whole, but the data underlines that the greater use of the transport network is linked not just to population but to economic factors.

The greatest growth in passenger numbers is on the Tube with a 24% increase in journeys between the financial year 2010/11 and the most recent 12 months. Bus journeys rose by 3% over the same period. But the bus is still the most popular form of transport. Latest data from TfL shows that in the last 12 months buses carried 2.4 billion people while 1.4 billion Tube journeys were recorded.

Public transport chart 3-2

So are the growing number of passengers taking growing numbers of journeys getting good value?  On price alone, the answer seems to be no.

The financial services firm UBS conducts an annual survey of prices and earnings across cities around the globe[4]. In its most recent survey it judged London to be the third most expensive for public transport out of 71 cities. Only Copenhagen and Stockholm were more expensive.

UBS focused on single ticket prices on a bus, tram or underground system travelling 10 stops or 10 kilometres for its comparison.

We have made a more like-for-like analysis looking at pricing on the underground systems in London, New York and Paris using multi-journey tickets that locals would use.

A journey on the Tube in zones 1-3 costs £2.80 on an Oyster/contactless fare. A subway journey in New York using its Metrocard costs $2.75 (£1.94) and a single journey on the Paris Metro costs €1.44 (£1.15) using a Carnet.

Zac Goldsmith has promised to increase the network capacity and deliver the Night Tube plan. Sadiq Khan has promised to freeze fares for four years.  Neither candidate is likely to argue that it is a simple either/or between better or cheaper, but the messages they have sent so far certainly sets up an interesting question about what really concerns Londoners most about their public transport system.

[1] http://data.london.gov.uk/dataset/public-transport-accessibility-levels

[2] http://data.london.gov.uk/dataset/licensed-vehicles-type-0

[3] http://data.london.gov.uk/dataset/public-transport-journeys-type-transport/resource/a7a69c22-150c-49f3-a1fd-90d4c24d98d4

[4] https://www.ubs.com/microsites/prices-earnings/open-data.html

This report was produced in association with London Live’s election special programme London Votes.

It’s been a long time coming, so who’ll be aboard the Night Tube?

tube coming to station-2

The dispute about the Night Tube has has led to strikes causing misery for millions of Londoners.  It will be introduced this summer, but a poll by the Greater London Authority has found that a quarter of Londoners say they’ll never use it.

The GLA asked 1,000 people from across the capital their views on the Night Tube in a quarterly survey it carries out to canvas views about a range of issues.  The poll found that 26% said they would never use the service and that jumps to more than a third when those who say they would use it less than once or twice a year are added.

Those who will never use it outnumber the hard core party animals it seems.  18% of those surveyed said they’d use the service every weekend which includes 8% of those surveyed who’d use it every Friday and Saturday.

Not surprisingly, the figures on intended use look very different when broken down into age groups.  60% of over 65s say they’ll never use it and 43% of those 55-64.  But for younger people looking to enjoy their night out well into the early morning it’s a different picture. 49% of 18-24s say they’ll catch it every weekend, and for 25-34s it’s a massive 70%.

People in inner London are more likely to use the service than those in outer areas, and Asian people emerged from the survey with the lowest appetite for the service – 68% said they would ever catch a Night Tube compared to 85% of black people surveyed.

The service was due to start running last September but has been delayed by the dispute between Transport for London and the unions over pay, working hours and staffing. TfL is yet to confirm a start date but the Mayor, Boris Johnson, has said that it will start running at the end of July.

The service will run round the clock on Fridays and Saturdays on five lines – Jubilee and Victoria and most of the Central, Northern and Piccadilly lines.


Night Tube Map: Transport for London

While there is a clear age division on taking the Night Tube there was a lot more agreement on its benefits. 80% said that it would have a positive impact on London’s night time economy and 82% that it would be a good for those going to work overnight.  London’s reputation as a 24-hour city will be enhance by the service according to 89% of those surveyed.

But there were also some negatives. 46% are concerned about an increase in anti-social behaviour and 41% are worried about noise.

The survey was conducted by telephone with a representative sample of Londoners on the 11-18th March by ICM on behalf of the GLA.

Source data

See also

Crime down nearly a third in 5 years on buses, Tube and trains

Strikes are a commuting disaster, but what delays your daily Tube journey?

How London compares for the cost of public transport



All aboard! Big growth in public transport use in past 5 years

tube commutersThe public transport network across the capital is seeing a rise in passengers at twice the rate of population growth.  In the past 5 years the number of journeys taken on the Transport for London system of Tube, train, tram and bus has gone up by 14% while the population has risen by half that rate to break the 8.6 million mark.

The number of people in inner London, who may be more reliant on public transport,  has grown slightly faster than the rate for the capital as a whole, but the data underlines that the greater use of the transport network is linked not just to population but to economic factors.

The greatest growth in passenger numbers is on the Tube with 20% increase in journeys between the financial year 2010/11 and the most recent 12 months. Bus journeys rose by 5% rise over the same period. But the bus is still the most popular form of transport. Latest data from TfL shows that in the last 12 months buses carried 2.4 billion people while 1.3 billion Tube journeys were recorded.

TFL growth all

The Docklands Light Railway (DLR), London Overground trains and the trams service make up just 5% of the journeys over the 5 years. But the growth in the DLR over that period has been strong as an improving economy has brought more jobs and homes along its routes.

TFL growth DLR

The biggest growth is in London Overground, the orbital train network around the capital. Passenger journeys have increased by 81% over 5 years but this is not a like for like comparison as the network has expanded during the period. The link between Clapham Junction and Surrey Quays was opened at the end of 2012 and the network recently added more lines including Liverpool Street to Enfield, Cheshunt and Chingford.

The only mode of transport that has seen a decline is the tram. Passenger journeys are down in recent months, but this may be related to station development work at Wimbledon which means the service is currently not running to this main connection point with the train and Tube network.

Source data

See also

Central Line leads the lost hours league table of your Tube delays

London leads the way in declining car use but the East is bucking the trend

Thousands forced to stand as train overcrowding worsens

Crime down nearly a third in 5 years on buses, Tube and trains








Tube Delays: Central Line

tube speeding pastThe Central Line suffered the highest level of delays of any line on the Tube network in 2014/15. Apart from industrial action, which happens in one off events, the biggest cause of delay was train fleet problems. This accounted for more delays on the Central Line than any other.

Transport for London measures delays in what it calls Lost Customer Hours (LCH). These are calculated by multiplying the delays in minutes by the number of passengers. TfL records all delays over 2 minutes. It uses the financial year from April to March and splits the year in 13 equal periods for performance measurement.

Data in the London Underground Performance Almanac for the last full year shows there was an average of 410,144 Lost Customer Hours per period on the line. That is 29% higher than the second most delayed line, the Jubilee.

LCH Central

Over the past 10 years as Lost Customer Hours have been reduced across the network the Central line has remained a persistent offender. It has shown the least improvement in all lines since 2003/04.

The Central Line opened in in 1900 and its flat fare of 2 old pennies from Bank to Shepherd’s Bush earned it the nickname of the Tuppenny Tube. In the 1990s it became the second line after the Victoria to introduce automated operations where the train is largely controlled by a computer system monitored by a driver. Unlike the Victoria Line, automated operations are not a significant cause of lost hours on the line.

Source data

See also

Central Line leads the lost hours league table of your Tube delays

Strikes are a commuting disaster, but what delays your daily Tube journey?

Passenger data reveals busiest stations where Tube strike will hit hardest

Londoners like Uber but think black cabs will stay if payment made easier

Black cabsThe drawing of battle lines between traditional taxi services like London’s black cabs and app-based services such as Uber is a current trend in most big cities.

It is perhaps an even more vexed issue in a place like London where the cab fleet is part of the cityscape and despite their grumbles Londoners tend to value the safe and knowledgeable service they offer. But like most big urban populations, Londoners also like Uber. According to the company the usage rate in London is multiplying by 5 or 6 times a year.

For many of the 22,000 licensed cab drivers this is seen as a battle to save their livelihood. But a survey by the polling organisation You Gov of attitudes to the traditional and the new in London’s car hire trade suggests that there may be room and appetite for both.

A sample of 1,000 Londoners was asked if services like Uber were good for them. 55% agreed and just 16% disagreed. Approval was much higher in those under the age of 40, and even in the over 60s more agreed than disagreed, though the margin was close.

Uber Survey Good

Men were keener on Uber than women, but more than half the women asked agreed that such services were good for Londoners.

But it’s not all bad news for the traditional service. Asked it they thought that black cabs would no longer be around in 20 years time 30 % agreed but 42% disagreed. So more people still want to see black cabs on the city’s streets, but would they continue to use them?

Uber survey black cabs

A clue to that is in the survey’s the third question. People were asked if paying for cabs should be made easier with contactless payments. A resounding 75% said yes and only 5% disagreed.

Uber survey payment

TfL has just completed a public consultation on whether accepting card payment and contactless should be made compulsory for black cabs. Currently about half of them take card payment. The results of the consultation are yet to be published.

The message from the survey, which was commissioned by PR company PLMR, appears to be that Londoners are prepared to use all types of cab hires, but above all they want them to be easy to use.

The lessons for London from other cities in the US where the Uber economy is much more progressed are not clearcut.  A study earlier this year that looked at small business expense accounts showed a steep rise in Uber use in place of traditional taxis by business travellers.

Uber’s own stats for San Francisco show that it may be disruptive not just for the cab trade but change the face of urban transport. In its most mature market it is more than three times bigger than the previous taxi market in terms of revenues. In other words, it has found a new market, most likley people who would otherwise have driven themselves.

The long-term trend in car ownership in London is down, particularly in inner boroughs, where car density is half that of outer areas, as reported by Urbs.  So Uber’s growth may be not just an issue for cab drivers in future but also for car sales people in the capital.

Source data

See also

Car ownership reveals a tale of 2 Londons

Availability of public transport below average in all outer boroughs

Strikes are a commuting disaster, but what delays your daily Tube journey?

How TfL may be key to success for Apple Pay in the UK

Oyster Reader Tom Page Wikimedia commonsApple Pay arrived in the UK this week and one measure of its success will be how it performs on the London transport network.

Apple Pay allows people to use their iPhones in the same way as a contactless card by setting up payment details in an app on the device and touching it on the card reader.

London is the contactless capital of the country accounting for 38% of all transactions according to the payment services company Worldpay. Since it adopted contactless payments alongside the Oyster card across the network in September last year Transport for London has been a key driver in the rapid rise of contactless payment.

There are about 1.2 million contactless transactions on the transport network each weekday according to Shashi Verma, TfL’s Director of Customer Experience.

Analysis of contactless usage by the UK Card Association, the trade body for the card payment industry,  in December found that TfL were the source of 11% of all contactless usage in the country. Supermarkets, coffee shops, bars and takeaways are the other big users.

Early reports on Apple Pay indicated that some people were finding it slower to open the gates on the Underground than using a credit/debit card or an Oyster.

Screen Shot 2015-07-17 at 12.35.04-2

Screen Shot 2015-07-17 at 12.39.40

Screen Shot 2015-07-17 at 12.46.45

TfL warned customers to make sure that their phone was charged to ensure they would be able to touch out at the end of their journey as Apple Pay will not work if the device is out of power.

Samsung and Google are looking at their own payment methods so paying by phone may soon become commonplace.

From September this year the limit on contactless transactions will increase from £20 to £30, so the relentless rise of cash free lifestyle is likely to grow, with London at the forefront of the change.

See also

Availability of public transport below average in all outer boroughs

Crime down nearly a third in 5 years on buses, Tube and trains


Road deaths and serious injuries down but pedestrians remain most at risk

pedestrian childFewer people were killed or seriously injured on the capital’s roads in the past 12 months.

According to data from Transport for London 2,167 people were killed or seriously injured in 2014, a 7% drop on 2013 and the lowest number since the current form of record keeping began in 1986.

Overall casualties figure that include minor injuries were up by 13% year-on-year with 30,785 people hurt in nearly 26,000 accidents. 38% of those injured were travelling in a car.

Pedestrians remain the most at risk of being killed on the road in London. Of the 127 people fatally injured, 64 were on foot and 104 were what TfL refers to as the most vulnerable groups – pedestrians, motor cyclists and cyclists.

Fatalities and Casualties on London’s Roads
Killed Serious Injury
Pedestrian 64 715
Cyclist 13 419
Motorbike/Scooter 27 499
Car 19 297
Van/Lorry 2 19
Taxi/Private Hire 0 13
Bus/Coach 0 71
Other 2 7

TfL’s current target for 2020 is to reduce deaths and serious injury by 50% from the average rate seen between 2005-09. Rates are currently 40% lower, and for children the 50% target has been achieved.

However those under 15 remain the most vulnerable pedestrians. 5,613 people on foot suffered some form of injury in a road accident in 2014. More than 1,000 of them were children.

Injuries to cyclists were up, but so is the popularity of cycling. Deaths and serious injuries rose by 3% on the 2005-09 average and minor injuries were up by 73%. Since 2005 the number of journeys taken by bike has risen by 92%, says TfL.

Men suffered 78% of cycling injuries, but they make three quarters of all cycle journeys, according to TfL. There was an even starker gender imbalance for motorbikes and scooters. Men take 87% of the journeys and suffered 93% of the injuries.

In comparison, injury rates for pedestrians and people in cars were split 54/46 male and female.

Source data

See also

Availability of public transport below average in all outer boroughs

25% rise in TfL staff earning more than £100,000

tube speeding pastThe number of staff at TfL paid more than £100,000 has gone up by 25% in the past year. More than 450 people are now earning 6 figures, according to its draft annual report.

This latest rise comes on top of a significant increase in the previous year. That was partly attributed to the massive Crossrail project, but of the 88 people who joined the £100k ranks in 2014/15 only 1 is working for Crossrail.

TfL staff earning over £100,000
2012/13 2013/14 2014/15
TfL 298 326 413
Crossrail project 30 40 41
Total 328 366 454

TfL says that the 413 includes 59 staff who received severance payments of more than £100,000 as part of it “efficiency savings”. There were also 91 staff who clocked up overtime to push their earnings over £100,000. TfL says their overtime was necessary as they are highly specialised engineers and project staff.

According to TfL the payments are a consequence of a massive modernisation programme that is underway to deliver faster and more reliable services. This includes replacing tracks and upgrading stations and signaling.

The boss of TfL, Sir Paul Hendy, saw his basic salary frozen. According to last year’s annual report he earns £331,357. He is eligible for a bonus of up to 50% of salary. This year he has taken £145,000 in bonus, that’s 87% of his entitlement, in line with TfL rate of delivery against its targets.

Source data

See also

Traffic constant, profits up – a congestion charge story


Traffic constant, profits up – a congestion charge story

hThe congestion charge has no impact on the committed motorists who drive into the centre of London every day. For the past 4 years the number of cars in the zone has been flatlining according to the monthly average for a rolling 12 month period. This shows that on average 3.6 million cars travel through the zone each month.


A year on year analysis of the data from Transport for London produces a familiar picture of seasonal ups and downs, with high points in the autumn and low points during summer holidays and Christmas.  In 2014 September was the busiest month with 4.2 million cars, August the quietest with 3.2 million. 2014 was in line with the annual trend since 2011.


The congestion charge was introduced in 2003 and extended westward in 2007, capturing millions more cars.  The western extension was abandoned by the Mayor, Boris Johnson, in 2010, causing a drop big drop in the numbers. Since then the monthly average has remained consistent. Transport for London says the 80,000 fewer cars a day enter the zone compared to pre-charge in 2002.

The failure to persuade more drivers to abandon their cars may be a downside in terms of congestion and the environment but it is financial good news for Transport for London delivering a predictable cash income.

While car numbers remain static the income is going up, helped by a £1.50 charge hike in June 2014, and the costs of running the scheme is coming down.  Last year TfL made a profit of £149 million from the congestion charge. That’s up from £132 million in 2013.  

Congestion charge revenue cost profit

The AA estimates that drivers have handed over £2.6 billion since the scheme began. By law, TfL must spend profits from the charge on transport improvements. It says it has invested £1.2 billion in public transport since 2003, most of it on the bus network.

Source data