London mayor Sadiq Khan must axe "empty" Oxford Street buses to push ahead with pedestrianisation

Mark Sands
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Sadiq Khan hopes to pedestrianise Oxford Street by 2020 (Source: Getty)

Plans to ban vehicles from Oxford Street must begin with a dramatic reduction in “empty” bus services through the crowded area, according to the London Assemby's transport committee.

London mayor Sadiq Khan has made pedestrianisation of Oxford Street a key part of his mayoralty, and his hoping to complete the project by 2020.

However, critics have suggested the plans need more detail, and now London Assembly members have called on Khan to begin the work by cutting bus numbers on the street.

In a letter to the mayor, Transport Committee chair Caroline Pidgeon said a reduction would need to be “sizeable” and that London should not simply see existing routes diverted onto surrounding streets.

Read More: London's streets for the future revealed

And speaking to City A.M., she explained that with visitors to Oxford Street benefiting from the new one-hour “Hopper” bus ticket launched by Khan, and Crossrail services incoming, TfL can move an over-supply of bus services away from central London.

“Too often we are seeing buses that are going virtually empty,” Pidgeon said.

“If we are to get everyone on board, and that includes Westminster Council, we have got to show that you can reduce the number of buses and not just push them towards the surrounding streets and cause congestion there.”

The committee is also calling for Khan to take on a “strategic” plan for West End transport, that encompasses boosts for more safe-cycling routes, and takes account of other infrastructure projects happening in central London.

This will also include finding mobility solutions for older and disabled people who are left unable to access bus or taxi services.

“Taxis in particular provide a valuable door-to-door service for many visitors, so a comprehensive review of taxi access should be completed,” the committee said.

A City Hall spokesman said: “The mayor recognises that this will be a complex process and has already began to discuss with stakeholders how to best to make this vision a reality. He looks forward to continuing to engage with local businesses, residents, road users and Westminster City Council as this exciting scheme develops.”‎

London chamber of commerce policy manager, Siwan Puw, said: “With the introduction of the Elizabeth line to the West End there will be a huge increase in footfall which will require clear planning to maximise pedestrian safety and minimise disruption to businesses.

“However we also need to ensure continuity of service in the area during the changes and make it as smooth as possible a process for roads users, pedestrians, businesses and residents.”