Oxford Street's bus ban plan for cleaner air

Britain’s most polluted roadway –Oxford Street –  may soon have buses banned as transport bosses try to combat the filthy air in one of  London’s major shopping areas.

Buses on London's Oxford St may be banned in bid to improve air quality in the area

Buses on London's Oxford St may be banned in bid to improve air quality in the area Image by Noniq / CC BY 2.0

Transport Commissioner Sir Peter Hendy has admitted that they are looking at every option for the thoroughfare – including a consideration to take all buses off the street. He told the Evening Standard: “We wouldn’t rule anything out.”

The possible change of heart for the area comes after consistent pressure by tourism chiefs and store owners seeking improvement for visitors to the area. A powerful alliance of interested parties in London called the West End Partnership have launched their view of Britain’s most powerful local economy by highlighting the urgent need to improve air quality. This is not possible under the current traffic situation where as many as 270 buses use Oxford Street every hour. The traffic density has resulted in the area contributing to the highest ever recorded concentration of a harmful gas nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

However the arrival of Crossrail serving Tottenham Court and Bond St should reduce bus travel into the West End area. Sir Peter acknowledged that if they didn’t do something to clean up and make it a more pleasant experience for shoppers, they would vote with their feet and abandon the Oxford St area in favour of the two Westfield Shopping malls nearby. Another possible option would be to make Oxford Street only one-way for buses. Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, said the proposed changes would be of huge benefit to the West End.

Related content