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Back to buses

Ken Livingstone dropped in to the ICE last week to tell civil engineers how the new mayor for London could reduce road traffic congestion and atmospheric pollution.

The self styled mayoral candidate hailed the role as an opportunity for local government throughout the UK to seize control of transport funding.

'For those of us who believe in regional government it is absolutely vital that the London Mayor delivers better transport so that other UK regions get more self government.

The only area where a real improvement in the first four year term of the mayor was possible was in transport, said Livingstone. Raising the standard of public transport would be the key.

He said: 'More women drive in London because they do not feel safe on public transport. Parents drive kids to school because they are afraid of them getting run over by other parents driving their kids to school. Let's get back to 20 years ago when everyone walked to school.'

Livingstone's solution - of high speed bus lanes on all major roads within the Circle Line tube network, using the nastiest traffic wardens as enforcers of the new bus lanes - was said with his tongue only half in cheek.

Comprehensive bus priority schemes and the reintroduction of conductors would stop buses spending two or three minutes at each stop.

He said he favoured a car parking tax over congestion charging. 'Congestion charging is an unprogressive tax that would penalise the general public.'

And he said: 'I would look at the way contracts for privatised bus companies are handed out. It's time we ended that little gravy train.'

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