Looking At The Transport Scheme For London Construction Essay

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The East London Transit (ELT) is a Transport for London (TfL) strategic scheme that involves high standard bus services, which connects communities in a major part of East London, to enhance public transport. Phase 1 consists of linking Ilford and Dagenham Dock through Barking Town Centre and was completed in 2009 and has recently won the Infrastructure Award at the Bus UK Awards 2010. ELT Phase 2 planning has already started and is due to operate in 2012 where Barking Town Centre will connect to Barking Riverside (Galleons Reach) and the proposed Thames Gateway Bridge. ( [1] ) In this report, we shall analyse the ELT stage 1 from initial conception to delivery, discuss its planning and construction stages and review the thinking process of planners and engineers in order to maximise benefits in the social, environmental and economic context.


The East London Transit idea originated from the "New Ideas for Public Transport in Outer London" report which was released in 1996 by London Transport. The report had recognised 2 schemes as appropriate for deeper studies which covered the Barking area and the Romford area respectively. Further development lead to a 50km+ transit network to combine the 2 original schemes. This transit network was called the ELT and was assessed through a series of studies in July 2001. ELT originally consisted of 3 phases; however after several studies together with financial constraints, the project was reduced to a 2 phase one. In May 2002, the Mayor of London announced the implementation of ELT phase 1 and stated [2] "The scheme will encourage regeneration and give Londoners better access to jobs". In May 2003, TfL commissioned Consultants Steer Davies Gleave to prepare the business case for the scheme. Ultimately, by September 2004 all the design requirements were met leading to TfL's approval. (2)


The objectives of the ELT project were set out by TfL in 2001 and were as follows [3] :

Planning Objectives

Transport Objectives

1. To improve the general public transport accessibility in the local area

1. To improve safety and transport quality in the local area

2. To improve the environment

2. To improve the transport efficiency of the area

3. To support the economy of local centres

3. To provide a cost effective and worthwhile strategy

4. To encourage sustainable development and aid regeneration

4. To provide improved links to and through regeneration areas

5. To improve public transport accessibility to key strategic locations in the area

6. To improve journey times and reliability of public transport in the area

7. To attract car users to public transport


A project such as ELT involves various consultation, planning and design studies before generating a range of best possible solutions to the problem and issues that satisfy all the requirements (design and stakeholders among others). In order to assess the ELT, the Multi-Criteria Assessment Framework (MCAF) was used as an evaluation tool in which the main indicators were environment, safety and security, economic, accessibility, integration of transport modes and integration with other Government policies.

Various individual studies have to be undertaken to construct accurate models that will produce the data needed for the MACF evaluation. The studies and models are briefly summarised in the table shown below. ( [4] )



Passenger Demand Forecasting Model

Number of transit passengers at peak and off peak times. Changes in mode share between public and private transport.

Highway Impact Model (SATURN)

Changes in traffic flows under different transit models causing redistribution of traffic in a wider scope and changes journey times.

Alignment Engineering Study

Required traffic management measures to deliver priority. Estimation of capital costs.

Operating Cost Models

Options for integrating transit with existing bus networks with different alignments. Estimation of operating costs with different vehicles type.

Transit/ Bus Integration Study

Emissions Model

Changes in emissions under different transit scenarios to improve air quality.

The results of the evaluation for each indicator and sub indicator are summarised in the following table. ( [5] )

Criteria/ Sub-Criteria

Brief Results

Environmental Impacts


More residential properties (1200) will experience less noise compared to the other 300 houses suffering from noise greater than 3dB.

Local Air Pollution

The transit will decrease private traffic flows causing reduction in local emission of around 4 tonnes per year.

Global Emissions

Decreases of 210 tonnes per year of carbon dioxide, 80 tonnes per year of nitrogen oxides.

Energy and Fuel Consumption

Reductions of 2200 tonnes per year of petrol and 350 tonnes per year of diesel and a decrease of 125 000 Giga Joules of energy per year.

Land and Property Takes

Within existing area, the transit needs 26 500m2 of land. Segregated alignments need an extra of 80 000m2 of land.

Construction Effects

Affect about 3400 commercial and residential land uses. Vary with nature and duration of construction works.


Negative impacts into pedestrianised areas due to visual disturbance but positive impact in regeneration areas.


Varies with amount of land used in segregation.

Safety and Security


Accidental savings having an average value of £500 000/year.

Personal Security

About 30M passengers per year will benefit from CCTV services.


Capital Costs

Initial costs and renewal cost of around £300 million.

Operating Costs

Increase of £5 million per year.

Transport Use

Increase of 30 M passenger kilometres per year in public transport.

Journey Time Changes

Decrease of 2.5 M passenger hours per year with transit.


Net increase of £7 million per year.

Benefit-cost Analysis

1.4:1 including impacts on other vehicles.


Reduced crowding by 0.9 M hours including decreases in national rail and underground networks.


Access to Local Centres

Net increase to those areas especially those which now have the lowest accessibility.

Community Severance

More roads (55%) will experience a reduction in severance than an increase (45%).

Pedestrian Space

Loss of pedestrian space in Barking and Romford is considered neutral.

Parking and Servicing Areas

Overall disbenefit due to stopping restrictions to prioritise transit along alignments.


Access to Development Areas

About 1.2 M of population within 60 minutes travel times.

Access from Deprived Areas

Deprived population (100 000) will experience 30% travel time savings with extended high priority bus options.

Access to Employment

Increase of 30 000 available jobs within 60 minutes catchment areas.

Local Policies and Plans

Improved safety, sustainability, environment, transport service among the other regulations or objectives.

Coupled with the above, there were also public consultations that were carried out to assess the views and concerns of all the stakeholders involved. Questionnaires and detailed brochures with information including maps and options were sent to 7000 homes, all businesses within a 400m radius of all the ELT routes and other involved agencies in the wider area. ( [6] ) However, it is also observed that the project in reality is not beneficial in a few mentioned aspects and every single stakeholder cannot be fully satisfied.

Features of ELT 1

One of the biggest question marks of the ELT scheme was whether to use trams, trolley buses or just buses. What made the decision tougher was the fact the ELT is linked to all the other transport systems and is therefore complex to integrate. As a result, the original idea of using trams was dismissed around 2001. Studies were undertaken to map out projected passenger numbers and service frequencies against the need for a completely or partially segregated route. Having weighted the costs and benefits of the 3 options, using trams implies that the whole transit network will have to be fully segregated; causing the costs to highly exceed the benefits as there will not be enough passengers to compensate the high cost of trams. Also, Ilford Lane does not have enough lane space for fully segregated routes thereby weakening further the case for trams. ( [7] )

The case of using trolley buses was also retained since new buses on their own could provide the necessary improvements when the route is partially separated. However, it must be noted that the road engineering and land usage of ELT were designed in such a way that there can be an upgrade to tram in the future. (7)

ELT 1 consists of only 5% segregation and 5% standard bus lane operation while the remaining 90% will be together with other traffic on the road. The second phase will consist of 70% segregation causing a combined 90% route segregation in the whole scheme. Consequently, to compensate for lost time in road traffic in ELT 1, the engineers had to employ traffic management measures along Ilford Lane to speed up bus journey times. For instance, there will be larger distances between stops, ticketless operation and multiple entry - exit doors on the buses. (7)

Furthermore, there is a new contra-flow bus lane in Ilford Town Centre, changes in parking facilities and better enforcement on Ilford Lane and Bastable Avenue, new traffic light at the north of Ilford Lane and changes to those at the south of Fanshawe Avenue to pursue private vehicles to use alternatives, new interchange methods at Barking station, setting up of traffic lights at Ripple Road/ Movers lane junction, modification of Barking Town Centre's car-free zone to adapt with the ELT service. ( [8] )

In trying to highlight ELT different to the normal bus service, the ELT bus stops will be equipped with updated satellite technology and real time information so that time at which buses will arrive is known by passengers making the service more 'tram-like'. The shape design and appearance will be unique and the kerb dimensions' modifications will provide quick and easy level boarding access to all passengers. It provides good shelter, accessibility and also equipped with ticket machines. (7)

In order to further improve the air quality, diesel electric hybrid double deck bus which has a capacity of 90 persons was chosen. It is a proven technology and a low cost option. The first phase has a total cost of £13.5 million. (7)

Layout of ELT 1

In technical terms, ELT phase 1 is about a 19km route between Ilford and Dagenham Dock. The high- frequency ELT service will replace the existing 369 and 179 bus routes but with better terminal arrangements in Ilford and an extension from Thames Vies Estate to Dagenham dock. (8)

Below are the detailed diagrams showing the major changes and works of the ELT scheme.

Figure 1: Barking Town Centre 1 [9] 

Figure 2: Bastable Avenue 9

Figure 3: Barking Town Centre 2 9

Figure 4: Ilford Town Centre 9

The overview of the whole ELT 1 is shown in the map below:

Figure 5: Overview of ELT 1 Scheme with surrounding Transport Links [10] 

Deliveries of ELT 1

Now that the first phase of the East London Transit has been completed, the following benefits have been delivered [11] :

High frequency bus service; every 6 minutes during peak times.

Reliable 24 hours bus and 7 days operation from Dagenham Dock to Ilford.

16% saving in travelling times which is equivalent to 5 minutes.

Distinctive bus technology (diesel-electric hybrid engine, air circulation in lower deck, air conditioner in upper deck, single seats for more comfort, CCTV for security, easy access for the disabled, iBus for stops information, better communication with driver and better response in emergencies).

Unique bus stops shelter designs (great quality maps and time tables, good lighting, real time travel and bus information, raised kerbs to ease entry and exit and off- bus payment).

Good drainage systems and high quality paving for pedestrians.

Betters links and accessibility to town centres, transport interchanges and regeneration areas.

Regular maintenance of roads to provide constant smooth drives.

Encourages modal shift from cars.

Greener environment with less emissions and tree lined roads.

Less traffic congestion to aid local residents and road users with greater use of public transport.

Helps the regeneration of Ilford, Barking Town Centre and Dagenham Dock (Thames Gateway Area).

Increased public interest in the Town Centres.

While the initial set objectives are met, we can however argue that the ELT phase one is not as good as it would have been if the preliminary idea of fully segregated tramways were implemented.


In the light of the above, the benefits brought about by the ELT are manifold and in all contexts. As a daily user of the ELT service, I can ascertain that the bus service is much better (fast, safe and comfortable and reliable) compared to the old normal 369 bus service. The ELT has linked communities along the route and provided them with improved accessibility to a range of existing and new facilities in the local area. The transport service has consolidated further the mix of different cultures in this part of London, by actually reducing the number of cars on local roads. It promotes a cleaner, greener and safer mode of travel whilst being fuel efficient and less polluting. I would conclude that the completion of this phase of the ELT has been a principal aid and catalyst which puts the local area on the map and facilitates the regeneration of Barking Riverside in The Thames Gateway Area.