Action urged to increase travel by Thames

August 8 2018  

Action urged to increase travel by Thames
London’s major waterway is an untapped ‘transport goldmine’ that could be used like an additional Tube route, akin to an aquatic Hammersmith and City Line, according to the London Assembly Transport Committee.
The committee urges Mayor Sadiq Khan to give more thought to the expansion of River Bus services on the Thames as a way of enhancing the capital’s transport network and reliving pressure on other modes.
The Mayor and the Port of London Authority have a target to double the number of passenger trips on the Thames to 20 million every year. But although river journeys have been increasing, the committee says a number of issues need to be addressed to realise the Thames’s full potential as a transport link.
“We would like to see more emphasis on increasing regular and commuter journeys on the River Bus,” said London Assembly Transport Committee chair Caroline Pidgeon. “What could be more charming than taking the Thames to work?”
However commuters currently account for just 20 to 30% of total passenger trips on the Thames. “What it needs is a champion to establish the River Bus as a key part of London’s transport network and to invite investment for new infrastructure or upgrades,” she added.
The committee recommends appointing a ‘River Ambassador’ and also highlights the importance of improving publicity, passenger information and accessibility. In particular it says there is scope to improve signage to and from all piers, especially at interchanges with other transport modes, and urges Transport for London to review how River Bus piers can be more easily identified on the Tube map.
Caroline Pidgeon added: “We want to see a boom in river travel but don’t want to undermine efforts to reduce dangerous emissions. So, river specific emissions standards need to be developed to reduce all river vessel pollution.”
A spokesman from the Mayor of London’s office said: “Improving river services is a key part of the Mayor’s Transport Strategy, and Sadiq is determined to increase the number of passenger journeys on the Thames.
“Last year the Mayor set up a Thames and London Waterways Forum to help identify further opportunities to help achieve those aims, and his team will consider the recommendations put forward by the London Assembly.”
A spokesman for the Port of London Authority said it welcomes proposals which promote the Thames for regular passenger and commuter use. “All forms of passenger transport on the river have potential to grow as we work towards the target of doubling passenger journeys. 
“The PLA launched an air quality strategy in June – the first port in the UK to publish a strategy looking at how emissions can be reduced,” the spokesman added. “We are working with the Greater London Authority, the Mayor and local authorities to promote the Thames for both passenger and cargo use, and to secure strong environmental standards.” 
(Photo: TfL)

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