With its funding in the balance, Transport for London (TfL) is being forced to cut running costs, but why are our local buses in the firing line?
Since plans were announced in June, I have been working in the London Assembly to find out the real impact of proposals for cuts in bus services across London and, the truth is, these cuts will do real damage.
The proposals see 16 bus routes cut completely, with other routes being diverted to cover the resulting missing links. The outcome of this and other recent changes is a 4 per cent cut in service in little over a year, with nearly 100,000 regular journeys split into multiple legs, forcing people to wait for a second bus or even walk to a new stop to pick up the next leg.
The people who rely on buses most are Londoners on low incomes, Disabled people, parents, schoolchildren and older people. London TravelWatch, which works with the Assembly, says cuts will disproportionately affect these groups, and have more impact on communities of colour.
The complicated consultation documents make it hard to see what will happen to your journeys, so we asked TfL for a clear summary and route index, which is now on the website to help you respond. We also asked for data on frequency changes for the buses that remain, and were shocked to see that, rather than shorten waiting times on other routes to make changing buses easier, almost all planned frequency changes were also further cuts.
In my council ward of Highgate, the 88 would shift across the Heath to cover the cancelled 24, while the frequency of the 214, which overlaps the 88 to Camden and might help, is being reduced. The double-decker 4, which serves the Whittington hospital, would also be cancelled, with the 236 single-decker replacing part of its route.
In the Assembly we heard from Disabled people’s representatives that peak-time crowding caused by changes like this will have a huge impact on their ability to travel.
Most troublingly, all this harm comes with a cost saving of just £35 million a year. I’m asking TfL to find other ways to save this amount, and for Government to stop squeezing London’s funding so none of this needs to happen.
Please join me and respond to TfL (at haveyoursay.tfl.gov.uk) by 7 August. If we all speak up, we can make them listen and prevent these cuts.