London’s Transport Commissioner Mike Brown on the response to coronavirus in London

Support NHS heroes and TfL — please stay at home

MY heartfelt thanks go to the people of London for acting on the instruction of the Mayor and Government to stay at home and not travel to help fight the spread of coronavirus, save lives and protect our NHS.

We have seen Tube and rail passenger numbers plummet by 92 per cent and by almost 80 per cent on buses. This is enabling the transport network to serve the needs of health and other critical workers across the city.

In the same way as national rail services into London have been reduced, we are also running fewer Tube trains. This is because about 30 per cent of our own drivers, station staff, controllers and maintenance teams are not able to come to work, including those self-isolating or ill with coronavirus. The training involved with these roles takes many months and it is simply not possible to replace them immediately while maintaining a safe service. Our staff keeping the network running are making a heroic effort.

We are running as many trains in the early morning as possible. There has been crowding on some sections of the Tube at these times as London has adapted to our new ways of working. We have dealt with this by making some changes to these morning services, by applying station control measures and by working with 500 British Transport Police officers while also encouraging people to spread their time of travel. We are working with national rail services to ensure we manage crowding hotspots together too.

We have also taken the step to temporarily pause all TfL and Crossrail construction work to reduce the number of construction workers needing to travel into central London. I am extremely grateful for the willing help and support we have received on this from the industry and our supply chain.

We have sent about 13 million emails asking customers to stop travelling. We have used announcements at key stations and posters translated into 13 languages, and pumped out messages on social media and through our website. We have also taken steps to manage the road network differently, lifting the congestion charge and Ultra Low Emission Zone to get health and other workers across central London.

We are processing refunds on season tickets as quickly as we can and have waived the usual £5 redemption fee.

At the same time, we’ve sought to support the small and medium-sized companies that make up 86 per cent of the businesses on our transport network by giving them 100 per cent rent relief for the next three months. My message remains simple: the threat you pose to London when you make an unnecessary journey is real. No one should be travelling unless you are a critical worker making an absolutely essential journey.

Please don’t travel. Help us save lives. Help us protect the NHS.

Mike Brown MVO, London’s Transport Commissioner

The Future of the Coach in London – Workshop Postponed

With the rapidly changing situation in the COVID-19 situation, we have taken the decision to postpone the workshop on the ‘Future of the Coach in London’ on 30 March 2020 until later in the year, once the situation becomes clearer. This decision was not taken lightly, as we recognise that this is a time that the coach operator needs as much assistance as possible. However, it was thought unwise to go ahead with an event that will bring individuals into close contact with one another.

Westminster – Abingdon Street

Advance notice that Abingdon Street, which is part of the road network from Millbank to Parliament Square will be closed from Monday 27 April until early July 2020 for security gate installation work. Traffic will be diverted via Horseferry Road and Marsham Street.

Westminster – Broad Sanctuary

Broad Sanctuary (the road that leads from Victoria Street to Parliament Square, by Westminster Abbey) will be closed eastbound from 1 to 23 April 2020. For coaches travelling towards Whitehall, turn right at Great Smith Street, ahead Marsham Street, left into Horseferry Road, then Millbank, ahead into Abingdon Street to Parliament Square.

London Bridge Closure

Until the end of October 2020, London Bridge is closed in both directions to all traffic except coaches and buses, licensed taxis, motorcyclists and cyclists. However, the journey over the bridge may take longer than normal.

New 20 mph speed limits on all TfL roads in central London

TfL have introduced reduced speed limits across 8.9km of London roads within the Congestion Charging Zone from Monday 2 March 2020. This is a significant move to reduce road danger across the capital. The new 20mph speed limits will be enforced across all TfL roads within the Congestion Charging Zone and are supported by new signage and road markings.

Raised pedestrian crossings are being installed in prominent locations where a high number of people walk, including near Embankment and Tower Hill Underground stations and outside the Tate Britain. TfL have recalibrated all the speed cameras in central London and will work closely with the Metropolitan Police to ensure that drivers are complying with the new safer speed limits.

The roads where the new 20 mph speed limit applies are:
• Albert Embankment
• Lambeth Palace Road, Lambeth Bridge
• Millbank
• Victoria Embankment
• Upper Thames Street, Lower Thames Street, Byward Street, Tower Hill
• Borough High Street, Great Dover Street
• Blackfriars Road
• Part of Druid Street (between Tower Bridge Road and Crucifix Lane), Crucifix Lane, part of
Bermondsey Street (between Crucifix Lane and Tooley Street)
• Part of Tooley Street (between Duke Street Hull and Tower Bridge Road), Duke Street Hill, Part
of Queen Elizabeth Street (between Tooley Street and Tower Bridge Road)
• Aldgate Gyratory, including Leman Street, Prescot Street, Mansell Street, Minories and
Goodman’s Yard, which is on the boundary of the CCZ rather than within it.

This should not have too much impact on coach drivers in London and with the large number of road junctions and traffic signals, which automatically slow down traffic, in practice it should not make much difference to overall journey times.

Speed is a factor in around 37% of collisions in London where a person dies or is seriously injured, which is why reducing the speed limit is key to the Mayor’s Vision Zero commitment to eliminate death and serious injury from London’s transport network by 2041.

London Mayoral Election Postponed

As a result of COVID-19, the Government have announced that the London Mayoral Election and that of the London Assembly have been postponed one year and will now take place in May 2021. Other local elections in England have also been postponed until next year.

This means that the current Mayor, Sadiq Khan, will serve a fifth year and therefore will oversee the changes to the the Low Emission Zone currently planned for October 2020.

Stricter Enforcement of Rotherhithe Tunnel’s Safety Restrictions

Vehicles that are more than two metres wide or two metres high, or goods vehicles weighing more than two tonnes have been banned from the Rotherhithe Tunnel since September 2018. Since February, enforcement of the weight restriction has been carried out by cameras and people driving prohibited vehicles through the tunnel have been fined up to £130 per day. However, TfL has continued to see a number of repeat offences by prohibited vehicles.

To keep people in the tunnel safe, from 2 December, drivers of prohibited vehicles will now receive a fine for each journey through the tunnel.