TfL sets out plans for 24/7 London bus lane trial

Posted: 22 July 2020 |

The trial, planned for late summer, aims to make bus journey times more reliable throughout the day and support Government advice to avoid peak time travel.

TfL sets out plans for 24/7 London bus lane trial

Transport for London (TfL) has set out plans to extend the hours of bus lanes on its roads in London to reflect a customer shift away from peak hours, in a bid to help ensure London’s sustainable recovery from the pandemic.

With current capacity restrictions due to social distancing, a single decker bus can carry 10 times the average occupancy of a car yet only uses twice the amount of road space. Extending bus lane operating hours aims to help guard against a “damaging car-led recovery” by improving bus journey times and safety for passengers.

Before the pandemic, in 2018/19, 1.15 billion journeys were made on the bus routes that will now benefit from the proposed changes. The changes have been designed to reflect a customer shift away from travel at ‘normal’ peak hours with demand now spreading throughout the day, and follow recent extensions to bus lane hours that have seen improvements to reliability in line with the Mayor’s Transport Strategy. 

The trial will start in late summer and aims to make bus journeys quicker throughout the day as 24-hour bus lanes will reduce the impact of congestion on buses. They also aim to be more consistent, with journeys taking a similar amount of time, irrespective of the time of day. TfL hopes that this will make it easier for Londoners to follow the Government’s advice to travel outside peak times where possible.

Existing access for bikes, taxis and motorcycles will be retained, while designated disabled parking bays, Blue Badge parking facilities and most loading bays will also be retained in the trial.

Claire Mann, Director of Bus Operations at TfL, said:”This pandemic has changed the way we all live, work and travel. For that reason, we need to adapt our network, be flexible and continue to help people travel safely and reliably as London gets back on its feet.

“The proposed changes to the operational hours of bus lanes will have significant benefits for bus passengers and people cycling beyond the current hours of operation, many of which were introduced years ago in a very different situation. We will carefully consider all feedback to ensure the trial has the greatest benefit to the greatest number of people and supports London’s recovery from coronavirus.”

Throughout the trial, which will last a minimum of six months, TfL will seek feedback from passenger representative groups, the business sector, accessibility and inclusion groups, as well as road safety and road user groups. TfL will also be engaging with London TravelWatch, who has been campaigning for an extension to bus lane hours. Members of the public will also be invited to feed back on the changes. 

Tim Bellenger, Director of Policy and Investigation at London TravelWatch, commented: “Bus passengers will welcome this initiative to improve bus speeds, reduce journey times and improve service reliability. This is something that London TravelWatch has called for over a number of years, most recently in our recent Mayoral transport priorities. We look forward to working with TfL as they progress this work.”