Transport demand modelling experts PTV say a range of solutions are needed to solve the problems of overcrowding at London’s busiest Underground Station.
A report by the BBC shows that Oxford Circus was closed 113 times over the past year because of safety fears due to excessive demand. The report says that a hundred million passengers a year pass through the station.
Paul Speirs, Managing Director of PTV UK said, “The problems of Oxford Circus have been exacerbated by long running engineering works at the neighbouring Central Line station, Tottenham Court Road, with the suspension of Central Line trains serving the station. However when the station fully re-opens next Monday, that will only partly relieve the demand. Crossrail is due to open in 2018 with new stations at Bond Street and Tottenham Court Road. You could be forgiven for thinking this will relieve the pressure on Oxford Street.
“Forecasts prepared by Arup in 2014 projected patronage through Tottenham Court Road to increase from 87,000 to 306,000 per day and from 96,000 to 284,000 at Bond Street once Crossrail opens. At the time, this dramatic increase prompted bosses at Transport for London, City of Westminster and the New West End Company to commission an urgent “rule nothing out” report that would look into the “radical solutions” that will enable the capital to absorb the expected daily tide of passengers, ranging from widening pavements to closing Oxford Street to traffic. What has happened to this study? Was it ever commissioned?”
Mr Speirs adds, “The Legible London walking map monoliths are fantastic and were first installed in and around Oxford Circus, but do tourists and shoppers realise that other stations such as Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square are just a short walk away? Legible London was designed to encourage more people to walk around London instead of driving or using already overcrowded public transport. Of course increased numbers walking on the street competes for space with cars, buses, taxis and cyclists too. It is a difficult dilemma for sure.
“While the Oxford Street Diagonal crossing has proved a success above ground, it has not helped mask the overcrowding of the tube station. There needs to be an investigation into how closing or restricting Oxford Street traffic in sections might separate shoppers from travellers to improve pedestrian free flow. This has been a long standing debate. The impact on buses and other vehicles would be huge so careful modelling of different scenarios would be essential, but if it’s done right we could find a solution which reduces demand on the tube station by dissipating passengers to other stations or transport modes.
“Maybe it is time to gather the key stakeholders with masterplanners and transport modellers around the table, with the right toolkits to tackle this head on.”
PTV provides market leading multi-modal modelling software and professional services to cities and consultancies around the world and has helped with everything from national and international transport models to the design of stations on Bogata’s new underground metro system.