Transport

About a billion trips are made on the London Underground each year, 70 per cent more than in 1980.28 Four thousand London Underground carriages whiz around 408km of route (181 in tunnels), travelling at an average speed of 32km per hour, including

Source: Charles Landry

Cars being the priority, pedestrians have to adapt stops. The metro uses 1091 gigawatt-hours of electric power a year - less than 1 per cent of the total for London.

On the surface things move more slowly: inner London traffic speeds are between 19 and 24km per hour (9-15 km per hour in the worst areas) and 30 per cent of a typical peak-time journey is spent stationary.29 In the major cities of the European Union the average speed is 15km per hour. This is no better than 200 years ago. Of 11 million daily car journeys in London, just under 10 per cent are of less than one mile. London has the highest concentration of cars in the UK at ten times the average - 1500 cars per km2 compared with an average of 150 cars per km2 for the regions.30

Each weekday, 6000 buses accommodate 4.5 million passenger journeys on 600 routes around London. Local bus journeys rose in London by 25 per cent between 1991/1992 and 2001/2002 - a period that saw bus use in other British metropolitan areas decline.31 In central London in 2001, only 12 per cent of people commuted by car, compared to a figure of 41 per cent for the whole of the city.32 More sprawl equals more car use. Seventy-two per cent of those working in central London used trains, 32 per cent using the Underground and 40 per cent surface rail. Compaction and density encourages public transport use. Men travelled 10.3

miles to work on average in Britain in 1999/2001, 70 per cent further than women (6.1 miles). The average distance between home and work in Britain increased by 17 per cent over ten years from 7.2 miles in 1989/1991 to 8.5 miles in 1999/2001 as cities spread their tentacles outwards.33 In the EU as a whole between 1975 and 1995 the daily distance travelled per person doubled and a further doubling of traffic is predicted by 2025.34

Two contrary trends are occurring in London with regards to transport. On the one hand - and in keeping with expectations of urban sprawl - people are travelling further to work. On the other, London's congestion charge for motor vehicles travelling in central districts has encouraged overland public transport, with fewer people commuting by car and more trips taken on local buses.

The British annual motor vehicle increase is running at 800,000. The movement of freight (measured in tonne kilometres) increased by 42 per cent between 1980 and 2002 and the length of haul of goods moved by road increased by over 40 per cent between 1990 and 2002. This means more traffic delays, given limited space resources, and more congestion, and it costs Britain around £20 billion per year.35 For the EU as a whole, congestion costs 130 billion euros annually and the total external costs of motorized road traffic are estimated at 270 billion euros per year - around 4 per cent of Europe's gross national product. Calculating all associated car activities into time, the typical American male devotes more than 1600 hours a year to his car, sitting in it while it's moving or stands idling, parking it and searching for it. Add to this the time spent earning the money to pay for it, to meet the monthly instalments, and to pay for petrol, tolls, insurance, taxes and tickets and you arrive at a figure of 66 days or 18.2 per cent of his time.36 London drivers spend 50 per cent of their time in queues. On average, Londoners spend nine days a year just sitting in a car and just three days walking.37

In 1950 there were an estimated 70 million cars, trucks and buses on the world's roads. Towards the end of the century there were between 600 and 700 million. By 2025 the figure is expected to pass 1 billion. Around 15 million vehicles are sold every year in Western Europe alone.38 When you average the space taken up by small cars and trucks and buses this equates to about 9500km2. This is as if just under half the size of Wales were a car park. Put another way, it is the equivalent of back-to-back vehicles stretching on a 1000-lane highway from London to Rome, a 250-lane highway from New York to Moscow, a 120-lane highway stretching from London to Sydney, or a single lane stretching 1.9 million km into space, five times the distance to the moon.39

A double-track urban railway can move 30,000 people per hour in each direction. A two-lane road can only handle 3000 to 6000 people an hour in each direction. A double-decker bus carries the same number of people as 20 fully laden cars. A double-decker bus takes up to a seventh of the road space of the equivalent number of cars. Cars need as much road space as five to eight bicycles and as much parking space as 20 bicycles. Buses, coaches and trains in Britain are seven times safer than cars in terms of fatalities per passenger kilometre.40 But over the past 20 years the overall cost of motoring has in real terms remained at or below the 1980 level while bus fares have risen by 31 per cent and rail fares by 37 per cent.41

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment