Does the Minister recall that when we had the debate on the London Regional Transport levy, one matter that I raised was the fact that since 1982 there has never been as long an average waiting time in London for buses—whether run by London Regional Transport or by private contractors — as this year? Is the hon. Gentleman prepared to revise the operation of one-person operated buses to ensure that we have less time to wait, which clearly cannot happen when there is only one member of staff on the bus and the queue takes longer to get from the pavement to the inside of the bus?
The hon. Gentleman will recall that we had quite a lot of discussion earlier this afternoon on safety. He will realise that OPO buses are much safer than open-plan crewed buses and that there are far fewer assaults on staff.
I recall the matters raised by the hon. Gentleman during that debate. The average OPO boarding time per passenger has been reduced from 4 seconds in 1984 to 3·7 seconds now, compared with 2 seconds for crewed open-platform buses. London Buses Ltd. aims to reduce that time to 3 seconds during the next couple of years.
Does my hon. Friend agree that part of the problem is due to people parking where they should not? Will he take steps to ensure that selfish people do not park their cars and vans in the area of bus stops?
My hon. Friend is perfectly correct. One of the problems with London buses' time-keeping is the parking of vehicles wrongly in particular route areas. I have discussed this with the Metropolitan police and priority is being given to action on those routes.