Why have TfL cut £40m from the Cycle Superhighways budget?

To see the May 2011 budget where the estimated final cost of the final tranche of Cycle Superhighways is £142m, click here (p13). To see the September 2011 budget where the final cost is £106m, click here (p11).

The budget allocation in September 2010 was £145m.

What is going on at TfL?

Transport for London have this quarter decided to embark on a £5m project to “commence investigation” of rebuilding the A4 Hammersmith Flyover, minutes from Thursday’s Finance and Policy meeting reveal. This project was not in the March 2011 Business Plan, and no money has been set aside for it.

TfL estimate the final cost of this project will be £60m. They have so far found £100k from the funding stream for maintaining the road network. The remaining £59,900,000 “is unbudgeted and the funding sources are being explored”.

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Cycle Superhighway 7: Do we need to spend less money on these?

Transport for London have also managed to award over-budget funding to a number of projects in the last quarter.

This includes the controversial Henley’s Corner scheme, which has ballooned in projected cost from £8m to £9m in the last three months.

Under budget

Impressively, despite all this, we are informed in the Q1 Operational and Financial Report that for this quarter TfL have actually come in under budget. How have they achieved this feat?

This is due to re-phasing of expenditure on Cycle Hire, Countdown II, Cycle Superhighways and Better Routes and Places schemes. (p11)

For those not steeped in TfL vernacular, Better Routes and Places is the current name for the directorate which funds the Biking Boroughs, cycling and walking Greenways and various walking events and streetscape improvements.

Steep drop

Just to confirm for anyone who is unsure about these numbers – and that included me because I couldn’t quite believe the amount of  money disappearing here – this really is happening and it’s reflected in a number of Transport for London’s documents.

In the Project Approvals list of May 2011, the Estimated Final Cost of the Tranche 2 Cycle Superhighway Routes was £142.4m. Now it is £105.7m.

What next? These are both down from the initially approved cost of £145m

The September 2011 Investment Programme Report final cost for the ten Cycle Superhighways as £105.7m (p41), down from September 2010 figure of £145m (p43).

Re-phasing

These projects need the money that they have been allocated. In May 2011, the project to build the first two Cycle Superhighways was closed after spending £22.4m out of the £23m they had been given project authority for. A cut of similar proportions would have left Londoners with a £6m shortfall.

I am flabbergasted that TfL have almost silently made such deep cut, burying it in the driest of committee minutes, released on a Friday.

Cycle Superhighways are one of the Mayor’s flagship projects. I confess, I do not know how TfL expect to be able to deliver them with £40m less to spend. I wonder whether Boris does.

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5 Responses to “Why have TfL cut £40m from the Cycle Superhighways budget?”

  1. betsy Says:

    I suspect they worked out with CS2 that they could get away with just a bit of blue paint (and really nothing else at all) and still have a ‘superhighway’ – and have reduced the budget accordingly..

  2. A V Lowe Says:

    When a lesser sum (£0.5m) disappeared from Glasgow’s Housing Area Budget, following an adminstrative location move Walter Morrison, an inspired campaigner of Corkerhill (now sadly dead) lead the community in a investigating the loss by recruiting the services of great fictional detectives (or locally recruited look alikes) searching the local streets to see if they might find clues as to where the money had been mislaid or misappropriated. Hilarious and hugely photogenic for the local media

    Perhaps these same great names in the art of resolving crimes and mysteries might meet up – I’d suggest at 221b Baker Street, and progress or disperse from this location to conduct a thorough search to find out where that £40m has gone or been tucked away for future use.

    Obviously you already have some clear leads and locations to check out to see what evidence of benefit, value or other measure can be found

  3. A V Lowe Says:

    PS re the photograph – surely someone ought to write to TfL and Barclays to congratulate them on the tasteful blue coloured parking bays which make it so much easier to spot a vacant one on a crowded London street

  4. betsy Says:

    why are the cycle superhighways (mostly blue paint) so expensive, anyway?

    how can chicago produce 100 miles of separated lanes for less than the price of 15 miles of blue paint highway?

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/09/24/us-chicago-bike-expansion-idUSTRE78N25520110924

  5. Transport for London’s lack of transparency: just one example « Cycle of Futility Says:

    [...] sick of it here, at Blackfriars, with the Cycle Superhighways budget, the Cable Car, and innumerable other [...]

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