Political Rant part 1
I think it’s plain that the Tories have no love of public transport, under Thatcher and Major there was a noticeable push to get us off the trains and buses and onto our own four wheels. The buses were deregulated, the railways split up and the only thing that saved the Tube from privatisation was that it was deemed too valuable to the economy of London and too politically sensitive to mess about with.
Congestion on the capital’s roads became so bad that in the late 90s and early 00s even the solidly Conservative Evening Standard was complaining that traffic was slower than it had been when we relied on actual horsepower and demanded that something be done. Something was done; Ken was elected mayor and brought in a transport policy for the whole of London that froze bus prices for four years and introduced the congestion charge for anyone driving into Central London during normal working hours. He set in motion schemes to make the Tube system more accessible and cajoled the mainline train companies into accepting Oystercards. Ken understood the importance of transport in keeping London successful.
And now, with a Tory government to back him up Boris is trying to get us off public transport again and back onto private but he thinks that two-wheels will succeed where four failed. A week after the election he’s announced that he is “determined to transform London into a city that cycles” and will spend £116m promoting cycling this year. Along with the ever increasing cost of his Routemaster replacement when taken along side the numerous schemes he has cancelled due to lack of funds it is plain that despite the claims to be all touchy feely these days little has changed in Tory thinking.
My only hope is that halfway through his term of office his ability to screw things up will be limited and that in 2012 the voters of London will recognise that Boris might know Oxford, he might know Westminster and he might know Kensington and Chelsea but he will never understand London.