We are delighted to share this blog post by Helen McKenzie summarising the findings of her report on how transport shapes who can access the areas of high employment in central London. The report looks at London before 2020, before Covid-19, but the issues it raises are vital to how we plan for the future of central London. As we recover we must ask ourselves: who is excluded from the opportunities and successes of our economy by the financial or time costs of travelling to those opportunities? We at CLF want to work with others in London on creative and equitable answers to that question.
Photo by Krists Luhaers
It’s easy to think about London – and particularly Central London – as a city where everything is accessible; where anyone can get from A to B with a tap of their Oyster card. The reality is much more complex than that.
London is a city with 9 million residents, all with different needs and challenges. It’s also a city with complicated physical and economic geographies. These factors mean that not every resident has equal opportunity to access the employment opportunities that the city offers.
In the Central London Forward area, the majority of employment and employment growth has been focused around London’s Central Activity Zone, including areas such as the City and the West End. However, there is evidence of more dispersed growth with less central areas such as King’s Cross, Paddington Basin and High Street Kensington showing a high percentage of jobs increase between 2011 and 2018.
The map below shows employment growth across the Central London Forward area, and highlights areas with high employment and employment growth.
As would be expected, areas furthest from employment sites have the longest travel times to these locations, including neighbourhoods such as Downham & Grove Park in Lewisham and Northumberland Park in Haringey. Slower journeys are also experienced in areas without direct rail or underground access (e.g. Roehampton in Wandsworth) or by those relying on slow or infrequent services.
It is also necessary to consider bus-only travel to employment locations, as this represents a lower cost means of travel which many Londoners rely on. The average CLF resident would spend only 4.6% of their earnings on a bus-only travelcard, compared to 8.6% of their earnings on an all-mode, Zone 1 inclusive travelcard. People reliant on bus services typically experience far longer journey times, especially over longer distances, which in many cases are almost double the time of an all-modes journey. Additionally, some fairly central neighbourhoods such as Wapping, Surrey Quays and Battersea South still experience poor travel times to employment sites. This can be caused by a variety of factors including congestion and geographical barriers.
The map below shows the number of employment hubs accessible within a 60 minute journey time by bus, and identifies some example neighbourhoods which have poor access to these sites.
Of the neighbourhoods which were identified as having poor accessibility to employment opportunities, many experienced a range barriers and inequalities which include – to varying extents:
Steer identified 10 factors which should be considered when trying to improve access to employment.