The Current Shape Of London’s Public Transport Service

Fergus Watson

London is one of the biggest and most densely populated cities in Europe. It has roughly 9 million inhabitants in an area of 1,572 km². This means that getting around the city takes time with so much ground to cover and people to contest with.

Alongside an estimated 17 million visitors to the city each year, the capital has a huge demand for efficient transport.

As a result, Transport for London (TFL), has been in charge of making improvements to the entire city and its network of trains, buses, bike lanes, and hire schemes.

It’s estimated that there are 1.35 billion annual journeys on the tube alone and that figure is expected to rise significantly over the next 10 years. However, with the transport network already bulging and travel famously difficult at rush hour, what is currently being done to improve conditions. Furthermore, what kind of state are the transport options across London currently in?

The Tube

The first London Underground journey was in 1863 as a 3.5 mile trip was completed from Paddington to Farringdon.

Since then, the network has grown to be the biggest on the planet. It has over 402 km of track, 270 stations, and houses trains travelling 83.6 million km on average annually.

However, despite the impressive numbers, the network is still struggling to keep up with the growing population of London.

Crossrail was thought to be the solution. Its original opening date of December 2018 was being touted as the day when London would step into the future. Its travel network was to be transformed.

Unfortunately, that never happened. Spiralling costs pushing into the billions have cost TFL and the government huge problems. Due to the fact that so much money is being ploughed into the project, other critical upgrades have been shelved, meaning that more delays and more problems will be inevitable on the current tube network.

Crossrail is now expected to open as late as 2023. This is a hammer blow to people who have bought property around the new stations and to the Londoners who will have to struggle for another few years.

The Bus Network

The biggest problem facing the London bus network is the amount of emissions it produces as around 9,300 vehicles are in operation each day. Most of these produce exhaust fumes which are contributing to the creation of toxic air in the capital.

It’s estimated that around 17,000 deaths are caused by air pollution in the UK each year. Over half of these are said to be in the capital. 

That is why urgent action is being taken to reduce the impact the London bus network has on air quality. This intent is behind the launch of brand new high tech hydrogen-powered buses.

Cycle Superhighways

Though many people had complaints during their construction, the creation of cycle superhighways across London has been a huge success. More people are cycling to and from work than ever.

The plan is to have 280 miles of high quality and protected cycle lanes completed by 2024. This would make London one of the friendliest cities in the world to ride a bike in.

To read more about the future of transport in London, discover more of our insight articles below.

What Will London’s Public Transport Look Like In Five Years’ Time?

The Challenges and Benefits of Promoting Sustainable Transport

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