What London Does Well in Urban Mobility
The combination of electric vehicle (EV) investments and incentive programs, modest car ownership, congestion pricing, and the expansion of the city’s Ultra Low Emission Zone improved London’s air quality, as compared to 2022. Planned expansions of infrastructure, which aim to have 80% of journeys taken by walking, cycling, or public transport by 2041, will further improve air quality.
London is home to a strong, efficient, and affordable public transit system that includes the Underground metro, light and heavy rail, tram, and buses — including the recently finished Elizabeth line, as part of the national railroad network. Plans to better connect residents in outer London to public transit offerings are underway, with new bus lanes and more frequent light rail service.
Urban Mobility Readiness Index, Sustainable Mobility and Public Transit scores
Challenges and Opportunities for London’s Transportation System
Although the city has a good cycling infrastructure, the overall density remains limited due to its large surface area. As a consequence, few Londoners choose to cycle. However, in July 2023, London opened 10 new low-traffic cycleways – the most that London’s transport authority has ever opened at once. City plans aim for 40% of Londoners to live within 400 meters of cycling routes by 2030 – up from 22% in 2022.
London's public transit authorities have been slow to implement autonomous trains in the city's Underground metro. London Mayor Sadiq Khan said in 2022 that driverless trains were not a priority.
Dimensions of the Urban Mobility Readiness Index score
How London Can Improve Its Public Transportation and Sustainable Mobility
While London is home to a strong public transit system, some residents walk long distances to stations. To improve station density and encourage ridership, the city can add more stops along the famous London bus routes — a cost effective improvement that would benefit residents. Adding bus lines is another relatively simple solution to reach more areas of the city. In the long run, adding new Underground stations will be key to expanding public transit offering, but that effort will be a time-intensive and expensive undertaking. London’s new Elizabeth Underground line, for example, took 11 years and was part of a $23 billion project.
Compared to many of their European peers, Londoners have been slow to gravitate to cycling in their daily lives. To encourage its residents to cycle more, the city can improve cycling safety and infrastructure by adding connected bike lanes with protective barriers and increasing enforcement of traffic laws. In addition, the city can increase public transit accessibility to cyclists by removing peak time bike restrictions. Lastly, expanding bike sharing offerings with more stations and bikes and providing electric bike subsidies, which help to limit geographic barriers and increase accessibility for older residents, would further support cycling throughout the city.