London is the starting point for a number of motorway routes. The M25 is an orbital motorway which enables vehicles to avoid travelling through central London and is one of the busiest motorways in Europe.
The UERL struggled financially in its first years and narrowly avoided bankruptcy in 1908. A policy of expansion by acquisition was followed before World War I, so that the company came to operate the majority of the underground railway lines in and around London. It also controlled large bus and tram fleets, the profits from which subsidised the financially weaker railways. After the war, railway extensions took the UERL's services out into suburban areas to stimulate additional passenger numbers, so that, by the early 1930s, the company's lines stretched beyond the County of London encouraging the rapid expansion of the city.
In the 1920s, competition from unregulated bus operators reduced the profitability of the road transport operations, leading the UERL's directors to seek government regulation. This led to the establishment of the London Passenger Transport Board in 1933, which absorbed the UERL and all of the independent and municipally operated railway, bus and tram services in the London area.
Sir Charles Herbert BresseyCB, CBE (3 January 1874 – 14 April 1951) was a civil engineer and surveyor who specialised in road design. Bressey was Chief Engineer for Roads at the Ministry of Transport from 1921 to 1938. Between 1935 and 1938 he carried out research on road planning and motorway design in preparation for his Highway Development Survey, 1937 for Greater London published in 1938. He served as President of the Institution of Chartered Surveyors in 1938-9.
During World War I, Bressey served in the Royal Engineers and spent time in France and Flanders constructing military roads attaining the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel before he left the army in November 1919, when he joined the Ministry of Transport. His 1938 report proposed a series of high capacity motorways radiating outwards from the city and made recommendations for a series of circular routes around the capital and major road improvements in the central area, including tunnels under Kensington Gardens, Victoria Park and Islington High Street and a viaduct from Rotherhithe to Forest Hill. Although World War II delayed the implementation of any of the recommendations, they were subsequently featured in a number of post war reports such as Sir Patrick Abercrombie's County of London Plan and the Greater London Council's 1960s London Ringways scheme and were the origins of plans that were later combined to create London's orbital motorway, the M25.