There you go – today marks the end of the expansionist, visionary period of transport policy in London and the start of a new, humourless age of austerity, quietly slipped out on the day interest rates are slashed and everyone’s still looking at Washington.  Tim Parker, now safely hidden in the Finance Commitee at TfL, is obviously under instructions to stop London’s transport authorities doing anything expensive, with the inevitable result that three schemes are now definitely canned – the Cross-River Tram (as expected), the Thames Gateway Bridge (as suspected) and the DLR extension to Dagenham Dock (as heavily trailed).  Also gone are the Oxford Street tram idea (what’s your bright idea for unclogging that now, then?) and a Tramlink extension, presumably that to Crystal Palace.

You will note, I hope, that these mostly affect poor inner city areas and badly connected outer areas of East/South East London or, to put it crudely, Labour voters.  Back in your boxes, proles, we don’t want you moving about.  Might hold up the traffic, what?

Very depressing times, but there you go – look beneath the Pyong-yang jokes and it’s the same old Tory bull.  Years of work wasted.  Good schemes canned, and, since there’s no indication that they have the slightest clue how to build coalitions and mount campaigns to bring about improvements, no more coming down the pipeline.  They sit there wittering away about saving money and how nasty communism is as if the last twenty years never happened, while all around the energy of the last ten years palpably dissipates.  This is why you should never, ever, put Tories in charge of transport – hey, guys, have you seen the oil price and car sales figures?  People are going to be demanding more and more public transport just at the time you’ll be providing less and less of it.  Wake up, Boris!

On the bright side, the two busways are still going ahead, and Gilligan is still a twerp.



16 Responses to “Roll up that map: it will not be wanted these ten years.”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Truly bleak days indeed. Full-blooded Tory politics in action, cut, cut, slash-burn. No visions or investments for the future and for the benefit of the public, only me and my car and fuck the rest.
    I just sincerely hope that this could kick start a better and stronger debate on how Boris Johnson’s politics in London reflects the Tory ideology in a nutshell so people can wake up to the danger of a Tory government in 2010.

  2. Azad says:

    I have looked at the transport schemes carefully and it looks as if none of them were costed into TfLs budget…you can’t spend money you haven’t got.

  3. Helen says:

    *bangs head against wall*

  4. “I have looked at the transport schemes carefully and it looks as if none of them were costed into TfLs budget…you can’t spend money you haven’t got.”

    Where did you get this information from?

  5. not len duvall anyway says:

    it has been rumoured that boris, who received decisive support in the mayoral election from bexley, where opposition to the bridge is most fierce, had no pull this one or risk losing support in possibly the most staunch tory suburb, and incidentally one which was introduced to the london voting area to balance london’s political spectrum.

    nonetheless – this is the best result for south east london, perhaps not for kentish commuters, people cutting across when the m25 seizes up, and those who stood to profit directly – this bridge would have worked well as as a crossing for public transport only. the tfl computer models of future traffic flows were TWICE exposed as inadequate – leading to accusations of ineptitude, or worse, vested interests at work.

    what’s wrong with the woolwich free ferry anyway?

  6. Peter Hulme Cross says:

    Well, at least the Greens will be pleased about the Thames Gateway Bridge.
    All these schemes will have to go ahead at some stage, except perhaps Oxford Street although I would like to see Trams going along there and think they would be quite successful.
    Sooner is always better and cheaper than later but it looks as though we will have to settle for ‘later’, at least for now.

  7. r jmartin says:

    How nice to scrap a tram system and tell people to “get on bikes”. I wonder if Boris would expect his own mother to have to ride out in the wind, rain and cold on a bicycle when she could have been safely on a tram with her shopping like hundreds of thousands of other people now denied such a basic, safe, comfortable journey provided all over the world. This is typical of the vileness of Tories and how they see the “rest of us”. “No trams.. get a bloody bike.” Sick!!

  8. Chunters says:

    Well no rise in my council tax then? Bloody marvelous!

  9. prj45 says:

    >Chunters : “Well no rise in my council tax then? Bloody marvelous!”

    How myopic of you.

    If you want London to go into reverse gear and stop being an even better place to live you’ll soon complain when the jobs go, your house price drops and your services are total rubbish; go ahead, but seriously, for a few quid off your council tax?

    A million londoners get three quid back on their council tax and they can buy a beer each, give that million three quids to somebody that knows how to use it and all our lives can be improved.

  10. Charles Elvy says:

    Am I the only one to remember the 1960s when a populist Tory administration scrapped the London Motorway Box, leading to the congestion that now strangles London? Short-sighted parsimony. But I see the Routemaster project goes ahead at any cost.

  11. Tom says:

    Ah, my favourite motorway box. One of the routes would have skimmed the end wall of my house – on the whole I prefer having a railway line there and willow trees outside.

    Actually, the Box came about because the original (Tory-introduced, remember) GLC legislation gave the GLC highway powers but no public transport responsibilities. Obviously, all the people whom they hired to work on transport were therefore US-obsessed highway engineers who therefore planned big US-style highways everywhere. In fact there’s an argument that the *point* of the original Tory GLC was to build the Ringway scheme.

    They then imported US techniques of car use prediction which were wildly wrong in a 1960s British context – one bit of the scheme (Earls Court to Battersea, IIRC) was predicted to take 300,000 vehicles a day. They came up with some really bizarre ideas – ‘Scheme 9′, for instance, looks like a string vest laid over London.

    The death of it is an interesting story in itself, but it basically came about partly because people saw what the relatively small-scale Westway did to Notting Hill (which wasn’t posh then, remember) and partly because nice middle class people from places like Strand-on-the-green organised, agitated and eventually infiltrated the Labour Party, which gained control of the GLC in 1973 and immediately binned the scheme in favour of public transport improvements. In truth it had very little chance of funding then anyway, but the difference to today’s news is that the electorate didn’t want it, either (there’s some staggering figure of the percentage of the London electorate that lived in the noise shadow of the thing).

    Boris, as far as I remember, didn’t promise to scrap every transport improvement that isn’t already signed and sealed, but that’s what he’s done, as well as pulling the old New Labour trick of re-announcing things as if they’re new, with the added chutzpah of blaming the guy who originally announced them for you canning the rest. Really, the spin is Alistair Campbell grade here.

    Congestion would, of course, have got worse if all the available money had gone into the Ringways, as well as swathes of London being deeply blighted. What London really lacks as a result of all of this fannying about and lack of proper government is probably two or three tube lines. The Tories are, unquestionably, mainly to blame for this – the original GLC structure excluded control of the Underground, then the subsequent abolition of the GLC erased any strategic London-wide transport planning for 14 years. Boris is keeping up a fine old tradition, as well as keeping up the current Tory hatred for trams (that’s three London schemes they’ve killed now, and don’t forget that Croydon Tramlink was Val Shawcross’s baby – I’ve seen the Tories try and claim that one).

    Fabulous site for Ringway information –

  12. AdamB says:

    Excellent post Tom. This was an easy move for Boris in one sense. Most voters are unlikely to miss what they never had, and he can hide behind the economic downturn in order to do what he wanted to do anyway.

    But in the long term what positive difference is he going to make to London? What will he be able to point to when it comes round to 2012? What will voters be thanking him for? Putting the fares up? Standing on the back of a new glossy Routemaster? Having a new police commissioner?

    At the recent LSE talk, one of the speakers said that what London needs in times like this is a ‘booster.’ It is becoming increasingly clear that Boris is very far from being that.

  13. L.Smith says:

    The cuts particularly of the GWT are sensible.

    The GWT had become nothing more than a watered down verision of the original plan – spurred on by bureaucrats in transport planning departments taking no account of the impact on community or the benefit (or lack of) that it would bring. The GWT had become nothing more than an expensive glorified 472 route. Taking more people to North Greenwich, given its overcrowding at peak times now, is foolish. The original visiion has long since been superceded by the DLR at Woolwich and Crossrail. It is retained only due to the bureaucrats who promote it.

    GWT1 is unfortunately still with us as it is further along in the planning process. We need this cut and the funds allocated to where they will bring real benefit. The community the route will impact does not want the scheme, will not use the scheme and gets no benefit from the scheme.

    The money should be allocated where it will do some good.

  14. OHOC says:

    Why does Boris even need experts? He has a perfectly good map to have a look at to see how viable the plan is…

  15. Alan Ji says:

    Money already spent on the next DLR branch to Dagenham Dock is all of 1% of the estimated cost of building it. DLR has an excellent record of opening projects on time and within budget. Indefinately postponing it just before the public inquiry for its Transport and Worlks Act application shows a great lack of vision.

    More seriously, everything new has been shelved unless it already has contracts or (Labour) govenrment funding. The only exceptions are daft stuff like the “new Routemaster” and studies for an airport in the Thames estuary.

    He’s opted out of any vision or project for the future of London’s public transport.

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