On Monday 15th May 2017 I attended a meeting with the City of London (COL) and representatives from the UCG, LCDC, LTDA and Unite. The meeting was a follow up to Aprils meeting so that an update could be given.
As most will know the trial will commence on Monday 22nd May 2017. We were given a booklet which contained the various ways that the COL will be implementing their monitoring strategy. The booklet covers a wide range of monitoring and in particular Taxi journeys. The COL are undertaking surveys and real time journey analysis in an attempt to determine any increase in Taxi fares or loss of customers. The LTDA are also in the process of completing similar surveys with use of ANPR detectors and real time journey analysis. There has been no definitive time scale placed on these results but a reasonable estimate would be the end of July. This data could prove vital in proving the devastating effect upon our trade and its customers.
The COL made it clear that they take air pollution seriously and we were given a map outlining the various locations of the diffusion tubes used to monitor air pollutants. It was alarming to see that there are no monitors on Bishopsgate, Fenchurch St or Gracechurch St and only 1 monitor on Cannon St. There are other monitors within the City that could be incorporated into the monitoring, though these are not COL monitors but are operated by CleanAir which is run by Kings College University. Incredibly the COL are unaware of these monitors which did not fill the trade representatives with much confidence. In fact it is very alarming to see great swathes of the City not included in the air pollution monitoring.
Another cause for concern is the use of Scoot traffic signal technology to disperse the 8km per hour of displaced traffic. The COL are caught in catch 22 here. If they increase green light time for vehicles anywhere in the surrounding area it will have detrimental consequences for pedestrians. There just isn’t the time available to increase vehicle green light time whilst ensuring smooth pedestrian flow. Remember the surrounding roads are home to busy main line railway stations with huge pedestrian flow. No matter how good the traffic modelling and traffic management systems are: unless they can turn a minute into 70 seconds this scheme could put pedestrians at risk.
The overall feeling I got from this meeting is that they are determined to make this work by hook or by crook. No matter how much the City scream safety there was no reason to exclude Taxis. Taxis have not been involved in any serious accidents across this junction. The COL want to pedestrianise the whole junction and this is the first step towards it. This scheme will put public on the surrounding roads in danger from increased traffic and pollution. As a trade the best course of action is to let the scheme commence. As we all know statistics can be interpreted in many ways, especially in an attempt to strengthen a weak argument. We were given assurances that if the congestion and accidents increase alarmingly the scheme will be scrapped. Judging by this meeting the COL will fight tooth and nail to justify this scheme whether the impact is large or small. At the moment the trade need to monitor the situation closely as the scheme rolls out. We need fact based evidence to back our argument. The proof will be in the pudding. It’s not over yet.
Updates to follow
Rank & Highways Officer (RMT)