The number of bus journeys taken in London has gone down while car journeys have gone up, according to figures released by the Department of Transport (DoT).
After a steady decline in car ownership in the capital, it appears that some people are once again turning to their own wheels. But why? Green Party AM Darren Johnson believes it's down to increased fares. As more Londoners face benefit caps and increased housing costs, it's not that much of a surprise that people are being forced to count the cost of travel to work. Johnson said:
"The Mayor needs to reduce fares and discourage driving. To ensure the successes in London aren’t reversed we need to be looking at increasing the cost of driving a car and decreasing the cost of public transport."
Bus fares went up 5p from £1.35 to £1.40 for a single journey at the start of this year and given the year-on-year increases in transport fares across the board, it's probably safe to assume an increase for 2014 as well.
Despite the fall in London's bus journeys and much like house prices, the capital's figures skew the national stats somewhat — the Guardian's datablog shows London has a higher number of bus journeys than anywhere else in the country. It's a pretty big difference too, with 279 local bus journeys for every resident in London compared to an average of 51 in the rest of England. TfL managing director of surface transport Leon Daniels responded to Johnson's comment:
“We carried fewer bus passengers last year due to the Olympic and Paralympic Games and because there were three less working days than the year before.
“The reality is London’s bus network is more popular than it has been since the 1960s. In the first quarter of this year we carried two million passengers more than we expected, and 11 million more than in the same period last year.”
Although Helen commenting on MayorWatch points out a discrepancy in TfL's explanation for fewer bus journeys.
While we don't take the view that all car usage should be banned in London or otherwise made totally inaccessible, surely the idea is that public transport should be the most economical option? And with the end of cash fares on buses looking likely, will more people be discouraged from using buses?
If you're a bus passenger, you can share your views with the London Assembly using this survey.
See our series on intriguingly-named London bus stops.
Photo by Lanre Makele in the Londonist Flickr pool.