Private cars “do not have a long-term future” in the centre of London, according to Transport Commissioner Mike Brown. Is this the start of a car-free future? 

In an interview in the Standard, Mr Brown said that in the “medium to long term there is a major question to be asked about whether they should be in a central city area in a city that is designed and laid out the way London’s streets are. It’s really not the best way to be travelling around the city.”

Mr Brown’s comments provide an indication that transport authorities are starting to plan for a largely car-free future in the capital’s heart. However, he did concede that black cabs and mini­cabs, including ride-hailing apps, would continue to “have a role to play” after private vehicles have been banned. Mr Brown, who is standing down in May after five years as commissioner, also wants big reductions in car use in the rest of London. We’ve already seen ULEZ restrictions come into play, with cars not meeting requirements having to be sold.

In response to Mr Brown, critics have argued that public transport infrastructure is not strong enough to act as an alternative, as well as citing the high costs involved. TV star Mike Brewer tweeted to say: “Can our politicians be any more stupid if they try? So, how does a mum get shopping, take kids to school, how do we get to hospital appointments etc?”

In light of Covid-19 and the need for ‘social distancing’, we’ve no doubt that several Londoners will be happy that private cars are still being used at present.