I have long been in the habit of reading The Economist and while it has often irritated me I have generally found something in each issue I didn’t know before – often a statistic or chart worth clipping. Alas in an editorial this week about Ken Livingstone, the Economist seems to have let dislike of the mayor get in the way of the facts. When it comes to public transport “Bagehot”
- distorts some of the facts – London may have some of “most expensive capital-city fares in the world” but only if you don’t have an Oystercard – and London’s public transport fares have never been cheap. Oystercard fares are still often cheaper than when he first came to power.
- Refers to old conspiracy theories that are as far as I know at best unproven – that lower car traffic speeds are due to “artificially restricting road widths and re-sequencing traffic lights across the capital” and worst of all…
- Resorts to complete (and misleading) hyperbole. “Even the mayor’s buses travel at little more than walking speed.” Well I haven’t been able to find figures more recent than the TFL 2003 report but then the average bus speed was 18kph and the average walking speed was 5kph. I do not believe the gap could have closed appreciably in the last three years!
Ken is no angel – some of his political alliances are certainly suspect – but it’s hard to argue with the broad thrust of his transport policy.