A number of London bus routes could be shortened — or withdrawn altogether — if 'modernisation' plans by TfL go ahead.
33 bus routes are included in TfL's major network shake-up proposals, which are now subject to a public consultation. Most of the bus routes potentially affected travel through central London, where, TfL claims, demand for buses has dropped by 12% in the last three years. Some roads in central London, such as Kingsway in Holborn, are now served by more than 100 buses an hour, many of which, claims TfL, are significantly underused.
TfL wants to cut three bus routes entirely: the 48, 271 (night service) and RV1. Elsewhere, it wants to shorten 13 routes, and decrease frequency of a further eight routes.
Where we propose to shorten or withdraw a route, customers will need to change on to an alternative service to reach their intended destination. This can be done at no extra cost due to the Hopper fare, as long as the change is made within one hour of departure. We anticipate that only a small proportion of interchanges would fall outside of an hour, well under 1% of trips.
Not all of the proposed changes involve cuts and curtailments: TfL has suggested an increase in frequency of the 26, 35, 46, 149 and 242 routes.
It also wants to introduce a brand new bus route, the 311 — which would operate between Fulham Broadway and Oxford Circus via Victoria station.
Still, many of the proposed cuts are expected to face stiff opposition. Community website 853, for example, says that proposals to curtail the 53 route will not go down well with Blackheath, Charlton, Woolwich and Plumstead residents.
Easing congestion, tackling air pollution, and enhancing road safety are three of the reasons TfL has cited behind the shake-up — although streamlining its dwindling funds is surely another.
This is the first major review of central London bus services in 16 years. TfL's public consultation is open now, and closes on 9 November 2018.