Madsen, Sam, Charlotte and I have already scrutinised TfL’s recently leaked consultation. The regulations would hammer innovative businesses, reduce competition, raise prices and worsen the quality of transport Londoners receive. The proposals are a conspiracy against the public. Over 130,000 have signed the counter petition. So, what could TfL consult on instead? TfL should be looking for policies that will improve the experience and lower the costs of travel in London. To do this they will need to encourage investment, cut regulation, and harness new technology. Some ideas to get them started include:
Reconsider ‘The Knowledge’ requirement – could drivers who have it certify and prominently advertise this unique selling point? Could others also drive registered hailed cars? Many drivers use mapping apps like Google Maps or Waze, which usually know where to go. These apps can also model a journey based on real-time traffic conditions.
Cut regulations on taxis – reduce the many fees taxi drivers need to pay. Support a more regular dialogue about fares. Allow a greater range of vehicles, which are cheaper and more environmental.
Support car-pooling – rather than hindering innovations, it should be encouraged. Costs are lower for passengers going the same way. It is better for air quality too.
Reconsider tolls and charges – scrap the one-size-fits all barriers of the Congestion Charge. It could be more sophisticated with micro payments based on your actual journey time, location, and number of passengers. Explore privatising major roads and the use of tolls.
Make London the world’s first true driverless car city – a vehicle revolution is coming. Driverless cars will save lives, money and time. We should allow trials on our roads and facilitate the introduction of fully automated vehicles before any other major city.
Push the button on fully automated trains – the Victoria Line pioneered the technology and the DLR operates without a driver at all. Staff could be redirected to supporting passengers.
Fix the basics – trains and the Underground shouldn’t be hurt by faulty signals, bad weather, and a few flakes of snow. When things go wrong, getting a refund could be automatic. In summer, water fountains in stations and air conditioning on trains should keep passengers cool. Barriers on the platform (like in Westminster) should stop people falling or tragically taking their own lives.
Enable drone deliveries – innovators like Amazon are testing drones to deliver packages. Regulations are going to be the biggest hurdle, not technology. Test it out and make it happen first.
Invest in transport by renting prime estate – advertising is not enough. Many transport networks are heavily subsidised by providing space for offices and retail. Hong Kong’s MTR own 13 shopping malls and is filled with underground outlets.