NRI to head London's transport body

Last Updated: Wed, May 14, 2008 08:34 hrs

London: A rising Tory star of Indian origin has been appointed by London's new mayor to lead on transport policy – among the most important jobs in the vast British capital.

Kulveer Ranger, 31-year-old Tory vice chairperson, has been named director of transport policy in new mayor Boris Johnson's team, the mayor's office announced.

Transport is among the most important and complex areas of policy for London – a sprawling city of 1,579 sq km and home to 8-10 million people – not only to ensure the smooth functioning of the world's leading financial centre, but also to help Britain meet its international climate change commitments.

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Former mayor Ken Livingston made transport the cornerstone of his eight-year tenure and projected his successes in this key area at the May 1 mayoral election that was won by his Tory rival Johnson.

Ranger, one of a team of 10 that will advice Johnson, was the lead delivery manager of the Oystercard – a smartcard that launched the electronic ticketing system for the train and bus system in London and its suburbs in 2003.

Johnson said: "I am certain that Kulveer will be able to use his experience in delivering the Oystercard in London to help me to deliver my key transport commitments including implementing interactive bus tracking, re-phasing London's traffic lights and coordinating a closer relationship between Transport for London (a local government body) and the private train companies which currently serve London's suburbs."

The new mayor's plans include introducing a tracking system that will allow commuters waiting at bus stops to see where their bus is.

He also plans to make changes to the city's traffic lights system so that they cut down on vehicles' waiting time, which in turn is expected to have an impact on Britain's greenhouse gas emissions and help it meet internationally-agreed climate change targets.

Johnson described Ranger, who has also been an adviser to Tory trade and industry spokesperson Alan Duncan, as a man who "has a reputation as a terrific motivator and a leader with ceaseless energy".

Ranger, who has been a political commentator on British television, says: "I'm Sikh, I wear a turban and it could be to my disadvantage or advantage. Being an Asian and breaking barriers where people haven't seen Asians before – like on Sky News – well, that is a success."

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