Sadiq Khan set to miss key target in bid to pull Londoners away from cars to greener transport

The mayor is seeking to boost the number of journeys in London made on foot, by bike or using public transport (Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire)
The mayor is seeking to boost the number of journeys in London made on foot, by bike or using public transport (Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire)

Sadiq Khan is forecast to miss a key milestone in his mission to encourage Londoners away from using their cars towards greener modes of transport, his deputy has admitted.

The mayor set out a target in his 2018 transport strategy for 80 per cent of all trips in London to be made on foot, by bicycle or using public transport by 2041.

But according to officials at City Hall, the mix of journeys in the capital is currently expected to fall below an interim target set for 2030, making the 2041 goal harder to achieve.

The deputy mayor for transport, Seb Dance, told the London Assembly on Wednesday: “The latest figure we have for London as a whole is 61.5 per cent.

“Our target for 2030 is 69.3 per cent, so closing that gap between then and now is the overarching priority that we have. We’re currently forecast to fall slightly short of that.”

Speaking at a meeting of the Assembly’s transport committee, the deputy mayor explained that there were also parts of the capital which were already “way ahead” of the target.

“My famous example is the City of London at 98 per cent, though perhaps [that is] slightly unfair, given it’s the ‘square mile’,” he said.

The deputy mayor added that Mr Khan’s recent re-election manifesto included some pledges which will help get London as a whole back on track to meeting the target, such as the promise of a second Superloop network of express bus services, dubbed ‘Superloop 2’.

“I said at the time when we introduced the [original] Superloop that it would be a catalyst for further expansion of the network in outer London, particularly because it would demonstrate a need that was hitherto unmet, in terms of town centre to town centre travel,” said Mr Dance.

Christina Calderato, director of transport strategy and planning at Transport for London (TfL), had earlier told the committee that Tube and rail journeys are continuing to bounce back following the pandemic.

Between January and March 2024, Tube journeys are up six per cent year on year, she said, with the Elizabeth line up 20 per cent, the DLR up six per cent, and the Overground up nine per cent - though journeys on the Tram network, which has suffered problems in recent months, were down two per cent.

Ms Calderato added: “We’ve also just had some DfT [Department for Transport] traffic estimates as well, which show that we are kind of levelling off at well below pre-Covid levels, and our traffic in London remains lower than it did in the early 90s - which, with a much bigger population, is quite remarkable.”

Mr Dance was asked by Green assembly member Caroline Russell whether the opening of the Silvertown road tunnel next year could “undermine” the mayor’s efforts to reduce traffic levels.

But the deputy mayor said he did not think it would “at all” detract from Mr Khan’s targets, so long as the tunnel’s tolling is set at the correct level.

“At the moment, there’s one bus route that you can use to cross the river,” he said. “That bus route is often stuck in traffic. It’s stuck in traffic because the Blackwall Tunnel is vastly overused for the road capacity for vehicle crossings in that part of London.

“Is there a way of cycling across the river at the moment? No. Will there be with the Silvertown Tunnel? Yes, because there’ll be a bus for cyclists that will be free - certainly for the first year, and obviously we’ll look to see the results of how well that is used.”