New York Truck Stop talks “Across the Pond” with #LondonBusWatch
I’m honoured to speak with New York Truck Stop Radio about the systemic danger posed by London’s ‘Big Red Buses’ which operated under the control of Transport for London (TfL), a public agency chaired by Europe’s largest city’s Vision Zero Mayor Sadiq Khan. #LondonBusWatch is a volunteer campaign led by a TfL Bus Crash Survivor that focuses on improving transparency and accountability for safety in the contracting, management and regulation of TfL’s Public Bus fleet, which constitutes about a quarter of all the UK’s buses and which makes up about half of the nation’s bus journeys.
Since its founding in September 2012, #LondonBusWatch—with long-standing support from London Assembly Members from the Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Green parties—has successfully compelled Transport for London to undertake the following actions:
Since 2014, Transport for London has published quarterly data about the casualties resulting from its contracted Bus Operation. In May 2019, GMB Union published analysis which revealed that over 5 year period between 1 January 2014 and 31 December 2018 “an average of about 3 people per day have been injured—of which over 4 people per week have been killed or seriously injured—as the result of a collision.” Over the same 5 year period, the analysis showed “a total of 4,942 people have been injured, of which 49 were killed and 1,068 were taken to hospital” in collisions involving TfL-contracted Buses. Further analysis of 2018 Bus Casualty data showed that last year, TfL Bus Collisions accounted for 16 percent of all pedestrian fatalities from motor vehicles in London.
On 1 February 2016, TfL launched a ‘world leading’ Bus Safety Programme which remains in force today. A 2017 Investigation of TfL’s Programme by the London Assembly Transport Committee (for which #LondonBusWatch provided evidence) found TfL’s safety oversight of London’s Bus Operation failing on a number of fronts, e.g. “there are no safety in bus contracts”, “TfL’s senior management bonuses are not linked to safety metrics” and “London does not compare well with other major cities on its record for bus safety. Of the 15 world cities measured by the International Bus Benchmarking Group (IBBG), London was one of only five not to have improved since 2007, and was ranked fifth-worst for safety in 2014.” In May 2019, #LondonBusWatch was invited to give testimony to the London Assembly Transport Committee about TFL’s Bus Safety Performance under Programme
TfL Bus Drivers were the first road transport drivers to be allowed access to the rail industry’s long-standing Confidential Incident Reporting and Analysis System (CIRAS) which was extended by the Mayor of London to TfL’s Contracted Bus Operation 31 July 2015 and has been in force from 4 January 2016.
Benefitting from the support of many London Bus Drivers, two of their major UK unions (GMB Union and RMT Union) and the Battersea & Wandwsorth Trade Union Council, #LondonBusWatch also works with various transport advocacy groups—ranging from the city’s numerous active travel and cycling campaigns to London’s trademark Black Taxi trade—who seek to reduce danger on London’s roads. Based on TfL’s latest annual casualty data, London’s Vision Zero Mayor Sadiq Khan has a lot more work to do on that front and #LondonBusWatch won’t be giving either City Hall or TfL any ‘free rides.’
Contact: Tom Kearney
Publishers note: Here in New York City we are often told how much better London’s transport system, how much safer their streets are, and how much we can learn from them. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Through a mutual acquaintance we were introduced to Tom and his mission to improve London’s streets. Moreover, as government agencies here are encouraged to operate more as a business with productivity goals and performance metrics it is vital to look where that could lead to.