Dave Hill Saturday 13 February 2016 08.07 GMT
On transport, Berry has announced an ambitious plan to phase out fare zones and introduce a flat fare system within ten years. She says her “ONE ticket” idea, which would enable people to pay a single price for journeys to a defined destination irrespective of changes of mode along the way, is considered do-able by TfL and has been costed. She takes a critical view of Boris Johnson’s approach to managing London’s streets. “He’s doing predict-and-provide, essentially – looking at the growth in traffic we expect related to population. That’s why he’s planning to create more roadspace – new road crossings in the east of London, road expansion plans, road tunnels and so on. It’s really very poor that he hasn’t talked at all about reducing demand. That’s what we need to get to grips with, and there’s loads that we can do because so little has been done.”
A Mayor Berry would introduce a workplace parking levy – “it’s easy to administer and it’s worked a treat in Nottingham” – and a new system of congestion charging, which she says is being looked at for London without a word being breathed about it in public. Berry anticipates that if introduced this would affect a wider area than the current charging zone and have fees based much more on distances and time of day travelled than the present flat rates: “It would give people an incentive to travel outside of rush hours and be fairer too.” Tariffs would also vary according to how polluting a vehicle was, making it also “potentially a replacement for the [planned] ultra low emission zone, which is going to be inadequate. They went for something that was cheaper and easier instead of what was most effective.”
The Wild West atmosphere on many London streets is an issue for Berry too. “There is a battle going on for space on the roads at the moment. You have to prioritise the most efficient ways of getting people – not vehicles – around.” She wants to improve conditions for pedestrians and give more priority to cyclists, believing that segregated lanes “are the way to get everybody cycling, giving everybody the option to cycle from eight years old to 80.” She likes the principle of testing local road system changes on a temporary basis in order to see what does and doesn’t work and to lessen anxieties about change.
Then there’s public transport. “With new bridges across the Thames, we’ve got to be looking at public transport links before we look at new roads,” she says. She favours the Brunel Bridge proposed for pedestrians and cyclists that would connect Rotherhithe and Canary Wharf and would like another spanning the river on the other side of business district, connecting to the Greenwich Peninsula. Even a heavily-tolled road bridge would be “the last thing I’d do down there. It’s not an opportunity cost in terms of investment. I would like to cancel all the current plans for east London and look at the problem from scratch. If you’re developing the Thames Gateway area, you’ve got to think about where people want to go. They want to go into town. They don’t want to go from Kent to Essex across the Thames.”
Berry is as eager as ever to discourage car use in general. Responding to a Twitter question from @howarthm she thinks the opportunity is there for Central London to have no private cars on its roads except for those in car clubs and says she’d want “an expanding programme” of car-free Sundays. She’s hopeful that car-ownership and car use in London will continue to decline. “If you look at the reasons for people driving less, a lot of it is demographic. Younger people aren’t interested in owning cars to same extent as their parents were. It isn’t as much of a marker for success as it used to be. The car companies are on to this, so BMW’s big car-sharing push Drive Now, which has been happening in German cities for ages, has come to London. They want young people to see their cars as things they might want to use, but not own. It’s not like how it was with people of my age and over. You know: ‘When are you going to buy your first car?’”