It follows a pilot scheme that found allowing “passenger transport” ambulances – which ferry vulnerable outpatients to and from hospital – to use the lanes resulted in a 20 per cent drop in missed appointments.
Emergency vehicles answering 999 calls have always been allowed to use bus lanes. But TfL has restricted access by other vehicles – such as private cars and minicabs – to keep the lanes clear for buses.
TfL will now allow more than 8,000 “liveried” emergency services vehicles to use its bus lanes – those on the Red Route network – and will encourage the 33 boroughs to adopt the same approach on bus lanes on council roads.
TfL said the trial, involving 150 vehicles serving Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust access to 15 miles of bus lanes in Lambeth, Southwark, Wandsworth and Lewisham, cut missed appointments without having a negative impact on bus journey times.
Christina Calderato, director of transport strategy at TfL, said: “Bus lanes have a proven track record of speeding up journeys, and we’re delighted to see further benefits in this trial for Guy’s and St Thomas’ and thousands of its patients.
“We look forward now to more patients across the capital being able to get to their appointments on time and supporting the vital work of the other emergency services, be it a forensics van needing to get to a crime scene or London Fire Brigade equipment needing to be in the right place at the right time.”
Ian Abbs, chief executive of Guy’s and St Thomas’, said: “Missing appointments is hugely frustrating for our patients and staff, so we are really pleased that this trial with TfL has reduced journey times by up to 16 per cent.”