Recently, TfL has opened up a consultation on improving Oxford Street to create a more ‘pedestrian friendly’ environment.
From TfL Consultations
"Oxford Street is one of the best known shopping destinations in the world. Around half a million people visit or work in the street and surrounding area every day and thousands of people and families live close by.
Oxford Street is already very busy and growth in London’s population and economy will bring even more people to the area.
There are lots of issues. Pedestrian spaces can get crowded. We recognise there is a road safety problem and air quality in the area is poor. Significant congestion delays passengers using buses and taxis.
Unless we take action now, these issues will worsen as London continues to grow, threatening the success of Oxford Street and the surrounding district.
The introduction of the Elizabeth line in late 2018 provides a once in a generation opportunity to tackle these challenges and make the district into the world’s best outdoor shopping experience and an unrivalled place to live, work and visit.
Transport for London (TfL), Westminster City Council and the Mayor of London are working closely together to transform Oxford Street and the surrounding streets.
We want to create a better environment, address poor air quality, support its cultural heartland and thriving business district and deliver improved neighbourhoods.
We want to know your thoughts before we make any decisions. We would like to hear from everyone who visits, works or lives in the area so please get involved in this important consultation."
About our consultation
Although our vision for Oxford Street applies to its entire length, any work would need to be done in phases.
That is why this consultation is concerned with the transformation between Orchard Street and Oxford Circus. For simplicity, we will refer to this section simply as ‘Oxford Street’ in this consultation.
Our consultation describes why we believe it is so important to develop wide-ranging improvements to Oxford Street and its surrounding district. Rather than providing a fully developed set of proposals, we would like to explain our initial thoughts on what transforming Oxford Street could mean for bus services and taxis, as well as on what provisions could be made for cyclists and freight.
We will describe, in as much detail as we are able to at this early stage, what impacts and benefits the transformation of Oxford Street might have. We will also describe how a transformed Oxford Street might look and feel in the short term and will ask for your thoughts as to how the area could be developed in the longer term.
Now let’s look at the section where they talk about the bus services in Oxford Street.
Accessing Oxford Street by bus
Currently, Oxford Street is restricted to buses and taxis only from 07:00 – 19:00, Monday to Saturday.
The bus is a hugely important and easily accessible means of transport, and the buses that use Oxford Street provide links to a wide range of destinations beyond.
The number of buses which currently use Oxford Street is a reflection of the very significant demand to travel to and through the area by bus – 41 per cent of trips on Oxford Street are by bus. At the same time however, this volume of vehicles restricts the space available for pedestrians who use Oxford Street in even greater numbers – 56 per cent of trips within Oxford Street are made on foot.
Earlier in 2017, TfL held a consultation on proposals for changes to the bus network in central London, including to a number of routes which currently use Oxford Street. These proposals will have the effect of reducing the number of buses that use Oxford Street by around 40 per cent. TfL has published a Consultation Report, outlining the issues raised in the consultation. For further details, please go to tfl.gov.uk/west-end-bus-changes.
Possible further changes to buses
We have considered whether we could make further changes to the eight routes that will use Oxford Street once these changes have taken effect.
If we made no further changes to the bus network in the Oxford Street area the links currently provided for bus passengers would be maintained. However, our ability to make transformative changes to the area would be extremely limited as we would need to maintain a carriageway along Oxford Street at all times for buses.
Removing buses would maximise our ability to transform Oxford Street, since it would provide more space for people.
We could divert some buses to a suitable alternative route such as Wigmore Street, which is not currently served by bus. We would need to consider what mitigating measures might be necessary to protect those living and working in the wider district and to ensure traffic could continue to flow smoothly.
New start and finish points for buses
We are reviewing whether it might be feasible to create new points, potentially in the areas surrounding Marble Arch or Oxford Circus if sufficient space can be found, where buses would end or begin their journey. Passengers who currently travel through Oxford Street may need to change buses. This would reduce the accessibility of the Oxford Street area by bus and would make travelling more difficult for some people. That said, the new bus Hopper fare would mean that passengers using Oyster cards would not need to pay any extra fare, providing they change bus within one hour.
We will also need to consider what changes, if any, should be made to the night buses that currently use Oxford Street. Allowing night buses to use Oxford Street could have implications for transforming the street as we would need to maintain a carriageway along Oxford Street at all times for buses. Alternatively, we could make the same changes described earlier, and divert night buses to an alternative east-west route.
Back in 2008, Ken Livingstone proposed an Oxford Street Tram which would run along Oxford Street from Marble Arch to Tottenham Court Road. This was part of his election campaign to pedestrianise Oxford Street. You can read more about it here.
You can also read more of the consultation here and the online survey here. The survey will close on 18th June 2017.
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