Boris takes us for a ride but not by tram to Crystal Palace

Transport for London is about to publish a seven-year investment plan that includes not a penny for the tram extensions promised in the London election campaign earlier this year by Mayor Boris Johnson and Steve O’Connell, the Assembly Member for Croydon and Sutton.

Publicity stunt: at least, that's what we think Boris Johnson was saying

Publicity stunt: at least, that’s what we think Boris Johnson was saying

“Boris Johnson has taken the people of Croydon for a ride. But it’s not on the tram and it’s not going to Crystal Palace,” Tony Newman, the leader of the Croydon’s opposition Labour group, said.

Ken Livingstone had planned for a tram extension through to Crystal Palace when he was Mayor of London. But the scheme was scrapped by Johnson when he was first elected in 2008.

This year, Johnson was again promising a £200 million tram extension scheme in an effort to win the support of south Londoners.

Even in mid-summer, after his re-election, Johnson was back in Croydon town centre, posing with O’Connell in front of a tram with “Crystal Palace” emblazoned on its destination board, and saying, “It’s vital for a place like Croydon that’s got massive economic potential to invest in transport infrastructure. This is the key to unlocking the success of the borough.”

O’Connell also sought votes by promising to deliver another extension, through to Sutton.

In the fresh flush of being re-elected to City Hall, O’Connell was boasting of regeneration benefits to St Helier of a tram extension, as well as easing journey times and creating new jobs. “I think it was important as early as possible to pin the Mayor down and remind him of his commitment,” O’Connell said.

But officials from TfL – who do not need to con people into voting for them – have been warning all year that there was not enough cash available to deliver the extension.

“Future extensions are not currently funded in TfL’s Business Plan,” one official stated in January, adding that the extension “could only progress if additional funding was made available”. The publication of the latest TfL plan shows that Johnson has failed to make that cash available.

Tramlink has been acclaimed as a public transport success since its introduction in 2000. Utilising a number of disused former railway track east-west routes across south London, the 17-mile network carries more than 70,000 passengers each day.

TfL will be spending some money at Fiveways, the junction between Waddon, Wallington and the Purley Way, a place of misery for motorists, pedestrians and other road users on a daily basis. Johnson is regularly criticised for spending his transport budget on schemes that benefit the car driver at the expense of other road users. The attempt to untangle the busy Croydon junction – through road widening?- is one of eight schemes around the capital on which £300 million has been allocated.

When asked what the works at Fiveways might involve, Croydon Council’s lead councillor on development, Vidhi Mohan, did not know any details.

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This entry was posted in Boris Johnson, Commuting, Environment, London Assembly, London-wide issues, Mayor of London, Purley Way, Steve O'Connell, Sutton Council, Tramlink, Transport, Vidhi Mohan and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Boris takes us for a ride but not by tram to Crystal Palace

  1. ndavies144 says:

    The only way to sort out Fiveways, and the A23 junction with the Sutton road a few yards north – they’re both part of the same system – is to put the A23 on stilts from somewhere near Sainsbury’s to the other side of the Airport Hotel. Or, preferably, bury it in a tunnel.

    Another approach would be a huge gyratory, though having Waddon station in the middle doesn’t help. Any such scheme would cost far more than anyone is prepared to countenance.

    Spending a few million on fiddling with the layout won’t make a blind bit of difference. The same number of vehicles have got to cross each others’ paths and wait for the same amount of time.

    It surely far better to do something which will improve a lot of peoples’ lives at reasonable cost and to get on and extend the tramway.

    • “The only way to sort out Fiveways …”

      Increasing capacity at Fiveways will simply attract even more traffic there. Developers like Westfield would love to encourage and enable more people to drive into Croydon if they get the go-ahead to take over the Whitgift Centre. Croydon’s air pollution monitoring stations show that the target for Nitrogen Dioxide emissions are being breached – which means that more people are suffering from ill-health than should be the case.

      What’s really needed is the courage to grasp the nettle of traffic reduction – not just in Croydon but across London and indeed the South East. This isn’t fantasy – a report published by the RAC has noted that, since 1998, car use in London has declined. Rather than try to buck that trend, Croydon Council and Transport for London should be working to accelerate it.

      Public transport fares are about to rise above inflation, which is a nonsense when so much money is about to be wasted on short-term measures for private car users. We also need to see investment in Dutch-style cycling facilities that make it easier, safer and nicer to ride a bike.

      Cynical drivers might wonder why they should support such measures. The benefits of traffic reduction to them become perfectly clear when driving at night or whenever there are school holidays – less traffic means their journeys become quicker and easier.

  2. If Politicians were subject to Advertsing or Trading Standards as regards what they say or promise then they might be more trustworthy. The press may be in difficulty regarding their behaviour but what about politicians? I can only remind people to bring their elected representatives to account at election time. Keep Spring 2014 in you diaries.

  3. This is a real shame for the Crystal Palace community.

    We already have the East London Line extension and a great bus terminal covering most of London and the tram would have been the missing link in the connection. It would have created footfall to the small and interesting businesses and shops and only have been a benefit making CP comparable with Croydon and Bromley.

  4. Pingback: Boris’ vision for Crystal Palace: no tram, more traffic | Crystal Palace Greens

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