London Evening Standard)
Car, lorries and taxis are to be banned from Tottenham Court Road under a £35 million transformation of the landmark street.
Only buses and bikes will be allowed between 8am and 7pm, Monday to Saturday, when it is converted from one-way to two-way traffic from March.
Camden council says the changes will improve road safety and air quality and lead to a change in fortunes for an “unloved” street. Drivers who breach the restrictions face a £130 fine.
But the taxi industry, which lost a High Court challenge against the way the draft plans were consulted upon in 2015, fears the move will worsen congestion and increase pollution in surrounding streets.
The council is midway into a two-year project that, by March 2020, will also switch nearby Gower Street to two-way traffic, with segregated cycle lanes along its length. All buses will move from Gower Street/Bloomsbury Street to Tottenham Court Road in March while Alfred Place, which runs parallel, will be closed to create a “linear” park.
Tottenham Court Road’s pavements are also being widened and a piazza has been created between the Tube station and Centre Point, ahead of the delayed opening of Crossrail.
Other changes include an Oxford Circus-style “diagonal” pedestrian crossing at the junction of Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Street. The plans are also funded by Transport for London and local businesses. 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.”
The move is the latest example of taxis being banned from key routes. A week-day ban was introduced at Bank junction in 2017 and a TfL consultation on excluding taxis from Tooley Street, next to London Bridge station, closes next week. Westminster council has also suggested banning taxis from Oxford Street at peak times. Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association, said Tottenham Court Road was an “ill thought-out scheme”. The LTDA has appealed to TfL commissioner Mike Brown to intervene. Mr McNamara said: “The major arteries of London are just that — they are the main method of London’s lifeblood moving around.”
Six bus routes will use Tottenham Court Road during the day, meaning up to 114 buses an hour at peak times.