By Linus Rees
Transport for London (TfL) are proposing to re-route buses through part of Fitzrovia and remove traffic bollards at a busy junction next to a Post Office to allow the buses to turn into a narrow street. Residents and small businesses in Great Portland Street will suffer the through-traffic that the Mayor of London, Westminster City Council (WCC) and the New West End Company Business Improvement District (NWEC-BID) don’t want in Oxford Street and Regent Street.
TfL’s proposals are partly a response to the Mayor of London’s effort to reduce the amount of buses travelling along Oxford Street. In a statement TfL said: “This complements work with the City of Westminster and the New West End Company to enhance the area through traffic management and urban realm initiatives. Routes 8, 25 and 55 currently terminate at Oxford Circus and come into service on Vere Street and then run via Oxford Street west. It is proposed to divert them so they no longer serve the Oxford Street west of Oxford Circus but instead run via Cavendish Square, Mortimer Street and Great Portland Street back to Oxford Street east. It is hoped to introduce this before the end of the year for routes 8 and 55, subject to consultation. Route 25 would also be diverted, on conversion to double- deck operation in 2011.”
This would mean that buses would travel east along Mortimer then turn right to head south along Great Portland Street at the busy junction outside the Post Office. Mortimer Street is two lanes one way heading east, while Great Portland Street is a narrow two-way street. To allow the buses to turn the traffic island on the southern part of the junction.
Yoram Blumann of the Fitzrovia Neighbourhood Association has called upon Westminster City Council to scrap the proposed route changes. Mr Blumann said residents will experience seven days a week and 24-hour a day disturbance; and small businesses will have their deliveries disrupted. “These bus routes are unacceptable to local residents and business people,” said Mr Blumann.
“Buses travelling at a rate of up 40 per hour during the day and 20 per hour after midnight each day would significantly harm residential amenity and may put at risk the livelihood of small businesses in this area. The possible improvement in Oxford Street would come at the expense of local residents and businesses living near by. We are sure that this is not what the Mayor had in mind, nor the NWEC- BID spearheading the project. The regeneration of Oxford Street was meant to enhance and support the immediate areas bordering Oxford Street without inflicting adverse impact,” Stated Mr Blumann.
Councillor Jonathan Glanz stated: “I support the objective of reducing buses [along Oxford Street] but also recognise the concerns of residents in relation to displacement. As West End Ward Councillor I have expressed and continue to express my concern and support in this area. Westminster City Council would like to see buses reduced throughout the length of Oxford Street and we are encouraging curtailment of buses at either end of Oxford Street and a reduction of overall numbers,” added Cllr Jonathan Glanz.
Fitzrovia resident and local government expert Tony Travers told Fitzrovia News “My general view is the small streets of Fitzrovia are entirely inappropriate for bus routes and, indeed, other through traffic.”
TfL will carry out an pilot along the route and an environmental assessment in December 2010.