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London Traffic Survey

Volume 641: debated on Sunday 7 May 1961

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asked the Minister of Transport whether he will make a statement about the London traffic origin and destination survey that he announced a year ago; by whom it is being conducted; when it commenced work; when its report will be available; and whether he is satisfied that its scope is comprehensive enough to provide the information necessary for the long-term flowing of London traffic.

Messrs. Freeman, Fox and Partners were appointed by the L.C.C. and myself in December last, to advise on the form and organisation of this survey. Their report has been fully considered by my advisers and by those of the L.C.C, and I hope that the contract will be let this month. The field work can then begin with the ending of the holiday season.

The final report will probably take eighteen months to two years to prepare, but it will be preceded by interim reports. It will be the largest study of its kind undertaken anywhere in the world, and I am satisfied that it will provide us with the information we require.

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman two supplementary questions? Will the survey provide all the information necessary for planning the road system of London twenty or thirty years ahead, or is it not a survey on too small a scale for that? Secondly, why has there been all this delay? It was in the summer of last year that this important survey was announced, and now it is to be many months before it is to be started. Surely, this is wholly unnecessary. Is it not just another example of the delaying methods of the Ministry of Transport?

I do not think so at all. First, as to the scope of the survey, it will be wide enough. In terms of the population to be covered, it is already the largest traffic survey in the world, and to increase its size would make it unmanageable. Therefore, I think that it will give us all the information we want. There has been no delay, for this reason: it was necessary for the consultants themselves to consider the terms of reference to see whether they could make suggestions, and for the L.C.C. to make its own suggestions, so that the actual terms of reference, when they started work, would ensure that we get the right sort of report. I hope that the L.C.C. will consider it in its Roads Committee on 9th June, and get it through the full Council by the 20th, so that we can move straight away.

Will the survey assist the Minister to consider the effect of dual carriageways in the central areas of large cities like London, having regard to the very strong criticism made and the probability that the creation of dual carriageways in central areas merely brings in increased traffic and ultimately adds to the congestion?

The main objects of the survey are, outside the L.C.C. area, to establish the design capacity of main motorways and trunk roads leading into London, and to enable the design capacity and optimum general location of main crossing or ring roads to be decided; and, inside the L.C.C. area, to allow the best general location and design capacity of the main new and improved roads to be decided.