“Increasing the capacity of the transport system cannot be based upon the private car.” The Mayor’s Transport Strategy Report, released in July 2001

Rather than easing traffic by increasing road space, Transport for London has recognized that making improvements to public transportation is a more sustainable and healthy approach to reducing congestion and improving quality of life in the city. Increasing the ease, efficiency and reliability of bus travel is central to achieving this goal.

A wide view of Trafalgar Square and the changes made to make it more pedestrian friendly.

Congestion Pricing

An ongoing shift away from private car use has been accomplished with congestion charging, better buses, and bus priority measures.
The daily £8 ($14) fee to drive in Central London during peak weekday hours encourages commuters to seek alternative modes of transportation, while asking motorists who use the city’s scarce, valuable road space to pay accordingly.
Money raised through the congestion charging scheme is being put back into public transportation facilities. Six months after the program began, the number of vehicles in downtown London had decreased by a third. Travel times were reduced by 15%. The congestion charge zone doubled in size in February 2007.

Street Improvements

With the closing of the road at the northern edge of Trafalgar Square, the amount of people using the central space grew exponentially.

Kensington High Street is both a major shopping destination and an important route for through-traffic to the center of London. These uses were balanced in a recent renovation of the area, which included:

  • Removal of guard rails at pedestrian crossings
  • A central refuge which provides additional bike parking space and helps people cross the street at any point
  • Improved lighting and reduced street clutter, through installation of multi-functional street lamps. One lamp column accommodates lights for traffic, lights for pedestrians, directional signs, and a hanging basket for flowers

100 Public Spaces Program

A once traffic heavy part of Trafalgar Square is now open only to pedestrians.

The Mayor’s 100 public spaces program is a major campaign to realize the untapped potential of public spaces throughout London’s boroughs. These forward-thinking initiatives are aimed at enhancing streets and public spaces in order to create a more comfortable environment in which Londoners are invited to linger and enjoy their city, rather than rush through it.

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