In what has been described as a ‘£35 million revamp’, taxis, lorries, and cars are set to be banned from Tottenham Court Road.
Under this new ruling taking effect from March 2019, buses and bikes will be the only form of transportation allowed between 8am and 7pm, Monday to Saturday, when the road is transformed from one-way to two-way traffic. Camden council authorities have declared that the “unloved” street will soon be new and improved, providing safer roads and better air quality. Drivers who breach the restrictions will face a £130 fine.
This decision has certainly angered those in the Taxi Industry, who lost the high court challenge back in 2015 against the way the draft plans were consulted upon, and believe this decision could lead to congestion and further pollution in the surrounding areas.
The council is halfway through a two-year project and by March 2020, will convert nearby Gower Street into two-way traffic, with segregated cycle lanes along its length. All buses located at Gower Street/Bloomsbury Street will be moved to Tottenham Court Road in March 2019 while Alfred Place, which runs parallel, will be closed and a “linear” park will be created. Tottenham Court Road’s pavements will be widened and a piazza has been made between the Tube station and Centre Point, ahead of the delayed opening of Crossrail.
Other changes included will be an Oxford Circus-style “diagonal” pedestrian crossing at the junction of Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Street.
The decision will be another of the growing bans of taxis from key routes. A week-day ban was introduced at Bank junction in 2017 and TfL recently launched a consultation regarding the exclusion of taxis from Tooley Street.
Adam Harrison, cabinet member for improving Camden’s environment, said:
“Not having taxis in the daytime will lead to 25 per cent less traffic, with all the benefits for air quality and congestion that go along with it.”
Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association, described the decision as an ‘ill thought-out scheme’ and the association has called on TfL commissioner Mike Brown to intervene.
Richard Massett, chairman of the LTDA also shared his opinion on this decision:
“Licensed taxis are a vital means of public transportation and the only part of the transport network that is 100 per cent wheelchair accessible, so should not be excluded from routes which buses and cyclists can access”.