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“TfL Loves Tech Too Much” says Caroline Pidgeon

TfL is getting carried away with new technology while other services are coming apart at the seams, the London Assembly’s transport leader has said.

The regulator is ignoring problems with lifeline services such Dial-A-Ride, according to Caroline Pidgeon.

It follows an announcement by TfL that it was investigating trials of a new app-based on demand bus service, which could be diverted to pick up individual passengers.

Ms Pidgeon said she was fearful that TfL was “getting carried away with the potential wonders of new technology and failing to ensure they get the very basics right.”

Dial-A-Ride is already “demand responsive” but its elderly and disabled user-base are being forced to look elsewhere or contend with a “deteriorated” service caused by poor staffing levels.

Waiting times have almost doubled, she said, with users having to wait seven minutes just to get through to the booking line - up from just under four minutes last year.

This is despite a 10% drop in call volumes – down from 157,287 in 2016/17 to 142,715 this year.

Most Tube and rail stations do not have step-free access, which makes Dial-A-Ride the only way some Londoners can travel by public transport. 

TfL’s new technology trials could see private operators running an “on- demand” minibuses ordered through an app. It could also involve a service running on a “semi-fixed route that can be diverted to pick up individual passengers.”

The trial would investigate whether “the latest innovations in ride-booking technology can be used to create a new TfL bus service that complements the capital’s existing bus network.”

Michael Hurwitz, TfL’s Director of Transport Innovation, added: “We want to understand the potential of new TfL demand responsive services to improve public transport for all Londoners.

“We are currently exploring the feasibility of a small demand responsive transport trial in areas of outer London where car dependency is higher and other forms of public transport are less viable.”

Ms Pidgeon recently called for City Hall to investigate the risks of Uber drivers accepting jobs on their mobile phones while on the move, which she said posed a danger to Londoners.

TfL had previously been accused of being too close to Uber when it gave it a licence even though, as has recently been acknowledged, it was not fit to hold one and did not adhere to the existing regulations.

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