HC Deb 15 May 1963 vol 677 cc1304-6
27. Mr. Vane

asked the Minister of Transport approximately how many buses are running in central London on weekdays at midday; and how this figure compares with 1950 and 1938.

Mr. Marples

I am informed that at present between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., 1,434 buses per hour run in the Central London area. Comparative figures for buses and trams for 1950 and 1938 were 2,176 and 2,458.

Mr. Vane

Is my right hon. Friend satisfied that this provides the sort of service Londoners need? Is he not aware that there are increasing delays at stopping places, that people often have to wait a very long time for a bus, and that a great many people who have not motorcars, private or official, depend on the buses? Will he do what he can about this?

Mr. Marples

The question of the number of buses in the central area of London is a matter of day-to-day management for the London Transport Board and not for me. However, I am bound to say that some of the short-term measures we have taken in London to speed up the traffic have assisted the London Transport Board, because in 1960–61 the London Transport lost mileage figure—that is, the difference between the scheduled bus miles and those run—was 18 per cont. down, which means that more than 500,000 miles were saved. So the measures that we have taken have assisted the buses considerably.

Mr. Mellish

In fairness to those operating buses in the central area of London, will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that, because of the congestion, it is virtually impossible to run scheduled services? Bus services are slower today than they were in 1914. What sort of conditions will there be in a few years' time?

Mr. Marples

The measures we have taken resulted in a considerable improvement in 1960–61.

Mr. J. Hall

Is it not the case that if buses and general public transport were much better this would encourage far more motorists to leave their cars at home?

Mr. Marples

That may be, but a private motorist is very greatly attached to his own car.