Night Buses Could Be Cut When Tube Runs 24 Hours

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 40 months ago
Night Buses Could Be Cut When Tube Runs 24 Hours

Photo by Comete Photographie from the Londonist Flickr pool

Night bus services could be cut when parts of the tube start running all night, according to the transport union TSSA.

It's been expected for a while that Transport for London will run a public consultation around night buses, and the TSSA thinks nearly a third of routes could disappear. On the one hand, it would make sense for night buses which run similar routes to the tube to be scaled back on weekends — particularly as ITV London is reporting the 'night tube' will be running at a loss for 17 years — but last year TfL was telling us night bus use had risen so much since 2000 that the night tube was needed to help relieve pressure on the network.

The TSSA says 47 routes are under threat. We've asked for more detail on their analysis (which we're currently still awaiting), but we can all look at night bus maps and draw our own conclusions. The N20, for example, duplicates the High Barnet branch of the Northern line from Trafalgar Square. The N207 replicates the Central line for part of its route: maybe it will soon be starting at Ealing Broadway? Are the N91's nights numbered? Which other routes could be under threat? Right now, we're still in the dark.

Update: a TfL spokesman has scoffed at the idea the night tube will lose money, saying it's expected to generate £19m of revenue in its first year. TfL also questions the TSSA's basic numbers: the TSSA says 5,000 buses operate overnight, 1,000 of which are under threat, whereas TfL says it operates 1,000 buses full stop.

Last Updated 20 January 2015

Peter North

What about people who are going to work at night and can't afford tube fares? What if you cannot access the tube - try getting to Angel platforms in a wheel chair for example. What if you live a mile from a tube station, but there is a bus so 5 minutes walk away (as bus stops are much more frequent than tube stops).

There are lots of issues with cutting or reducing night busses.

David Richards

I can't see many night bus routes being scrapped altogether, but many will have a reduced frequency, or new routes might be developed to become 'feeders' to tube stations rather than running directly into central London.

Take the N29 for example: which runs 18 buses per hour at weekends. When the Piccadilly line starts running all night, there's no way that 18 buses per hour will be needed, but the route will still be a busy one. And the 8 buses per hour which run on other nights will still be needed.

Regarding the N91, it serves Crouch End, which is not on the tube network. So it could just turn into a 24-hour 91, without the 'extension' parallelling the Piccadilly line. But again, don't forget about the other nights of the week when there won't be a night tube.


would be a real shame,


Might be worth including some of the TfL statement that's been posted (e.g. on ITV -

Basically - they say that there will probably be some cuts on services which mirror tube routes, but they will be looking to create new routes in the suburbs, presumably linking to night tube services.

Which makes sense, really.

Roger Dempsey

It's a service that we need - some will need to use it to get to work and some just to come home from night's out - shame the biggest hurdle for TFL will inevitably be cost and cost alone.


Makes sense. Totally. People are voicing various concerns here... all understandable. But you have to think about mass market appeal. Looking at the frequency of buses vs tubes, on a similar line, then the tube will carry significantly higher numbers.

There will be cases where yes, some people may have to now take more than one bus, or change. But that's a small sacrifice compared to the thousands it will transport safely.

Costs: taxis will suffer more. Overall, Londoners will be better off. Again, will there be cases where some people pay more? Of course. But more won't overall.

Debating whether a bus transports you 5 minutes away compared to a tube 10 minutes away is macro view. The thing is TfL are tasked with transporting millions efficiently. They do it very well, and they have data which allows them to make informed decisions. Data we as users do not have with our specific views.

Conjecture, until they say what will happen, is pointless.

Sarah Moore

Don't take away the N29!