London, England, has begun emerging from its COVID-19 shutdown and, according to the Evening Standard, is already seeing changes to demand for different commuting modes:
- Forty percent of Londoners say they’re hesitant to use the Tube rail system. Before COVID-19, 58 percent of people working in the city used the train or bus to get to work. Estimates are the system can only hold 13 to 15 percent of capacity while maintaining social distancing.
- The government is encouraging people to use bikes, scooters, and their feet to get around when possible. Estimates say about half of London commutes are less than three miles long.
- Car traffic is expected to spike but the city’s congestion charge returns to effect today and gets more expensive June 22. The city plans to ban cars from several major routes in an effort to calm traffic.
- Electric scooters, which were banned from roads before the shutdown, are expected to be allowed in new and existing bike lanes.
- Experts say most people won’t return to 9 to 5 desk jobs for quite some time, if ever, so they hope to get people back on the Tube, just on alternative schedules.
Read the whole story and analysis here.
After drivers switched their profile photos for those of other drivers in Uber’s system, London’s transportation authority refused to renew the ride-share operator’s license. Passengers were picked up by the wrong driver more than 14,000 times, the authority said, after photo swaps were made in the company’s main system; passengers saw a name that didn’t match up with the photo or the driver who showed up. The authority said that also meant some drivers were uninsured and even unlicensed.
Another issue let suspended or fired drivers create new profiles and keep driving for the service.
Uber vowed to appeal the license denial and said it will keep operating in the meantime. All of its drivers, it said, have been audited, and a facial matching process is in the works. Read the whole story here.
After a long fight by preservationists and lovers of Brutalist architecture to save it, the hammer fell earlier this week. London’s Welbeck Car Park was denied protected status and will be demolished to make room for a new hotel.
Designed in the 1960s to serve customers of a department store and opened in 1971, the garage was not universally beloved but was considered significant–it was a forward-thinking way to design a building used to park cars. Its concrete, diamond-patterned facade was a famous example of Brutalism (and turned into a wallpaper pattern by one company) and despite the two-year-long efforts of preservationists, will not be saved as part of the new building.
Read the whole story and get a last look here.