Peter Hendy, a University of Leeds graduate in Economics and Geography (1975), delivered the second Leeds University Business School Annual Lecture to an audience of over 120 alumni. The lecture was held in London's Living Room at City Hall, home to the Greater London Authority.
Transporting London - the economics and politics of keeping a world city moving
Hendy opened his lecture by outlining the history of the transport network in the capital; 'Transport in London has always been shaped by the parliamentary process.' explained Hendy. 'When transport links were first developed its purpose was to bring things within easy reach of the capital. Whilst mobility improved between London and the rest of the country, travel within the capital remained problematic.' It wasn't until the 20th Century that the capital's entrepreneurs developed the tube and built it in only 16 years.
London is the only city in the world to have its transport entirely under mayoral control, and Transport for London (TFL)'s remit is vast. Covering 'everything that moves in the city' the mayor's transport strategy is ambitious and Hendy argued that it could never have been delivered under central government control. Hendy believes that the implementation of a mayoral system was one of the best things that could have happened for transport in London and that the changes witnessed over the last two decades would not have happened without the political weight of an elected mayor.
Hendy argues that without the mayoral system, revolutionary ideas like the congestion charge, oyster cards and Boris bikes would never have been realised. There are now more people than ever on London's buses and there has been a 15% increase in cycling in the city within the last 12 months. The change in governance has been a huge step change for transport in London, and having a proper strategic authority that is prepared and supported by business has been a major boost for the city.
The lecture was followed by a question and answer session and drinks reception with Peter, whilst guests enjoyed stunning views from the balcony of London's Living room, on the 9th floor of City Hall.