Programme of proposed cuts includes scrapping of local routes
Greg Hands in front a number 14 bus which is set to be scrapped
Transport for London (TfL) is proposing to scrap or alter a number of routes across London including several serving Fulham, Hammersmith and Shepherd’s Bush.
It has announced proposals to make significant reductions to bus services saying the measures are necessary because the government is requiring it to reduce operating expenditure as a condition of continued funding. The plan to meet these targets is to reduce the extent of the bus network by four per cent by 2024/25. This will reportedly be the biggest reduction in London’s bus service ever and the fleet is to be reduced by 250 buses and 16 routes to be axed.
Proposals to achieve the required reduction, by changing and withdrawing some bus routes in and around central London, were published for consultation on Wednesday 1 June. A six-week consultation sets out how TfL plan to operate the bus network while responding to Government requirements to make further savings.
Route 14 would be completely scrapped under the current proposals. It runs between Putney Heath and Russell Square - via Putney, Fulham Broadway, South Kensington, Knightsbridge, Green Park and Piccadilly Circus and has previously gained notoriety for being ranked as the slowest bus route in London. Chelsea and Fulham MP has been campaigning for improvements to the route. The service was rerouted to Russell Square in 2019, no longer serving stops between Tottenham Court Road and Warren Street. To compensate for the loss it is proposed to extend route 414 from Putney Bridge to Putney Heath.
The number 31 bus route which serves stops between Camden and White City, including Swiss Cottage, Kilburn High Road Station, Notting Hill Gate and Shepherd’s Bush Station is to be scrapped along with the N31 night bus service which follows the same route, operating between midnight and 6am, and serving more stops.
Route 11 between Fulham and Liverpool Street - via World’s End, Chelsea, Sloane Square, Victoria, Charing Cross and Bank would also be scrapped with TfL saying there is adequate capacity on other routes travelling in the same direction. One of the longest-running bus routes in London, the number 11 has been in continuous service since 1906. The frequency of the service was cut to five buses per hour in 2021.
The N11 night bus would also be scrapped this operates between midnight and 6am, serving stops between Ealing Broadway Station and Liverpool Street. It follows the day time 11 route continuing onto Hammersmith from Fulham past Charing Cross Hospital and to Young's Corner.
Route 74 which operated between Putney Exchange and Baker Street Station - via Fulham, Lillie Road, West Brompton, Earls Court, Gloucester Road, South Kensington, and Marble Arch would no longer run. To ensure bus capacity meets customer demand between Lillie Road and West Brompton TfL is proposing to reroute the 430 along current route 74 between Lillie Road and South Kensington. It says route 74 has excess space on board because it is running more buses than are needed between Fulham and Knightsbridge via Lillie Road. The N74 night bus is also being scrapped. This follows the same route, but begins in Roehampton and includes stops including Roehampton University and Queen Mary’s Hospital.
A 74 bus. Picture: Au Morandarte
Route 72, which has been operating since the 1930s, currently runs between Brunel Road and Hammersmith Bridge Road - via East Acton, White City, Shepherd’s Bush, Hammersmith Bus Station will be scrapped. As well as extending the 272, route 49 would serve White City to East Acton and route 283 would be extended from Hammersmith Bus Station to Hammersmith Bridge north side. The N72 night bus, which is also being scrapped, continues south towards Roehampton, with stops including Putney Pier, Barnes Station, Roehampton University and Queen Mary’s Hospital.
Route 272 would be extended from Shepherd’s Bush Green to Hammersmith Bus Station currently running between Chiswick (Grove Park) and Shepherd’s Bus Green - via Chiswick, Turnham Green, Old Oak Common, East Acton, and White City. Its frequency would also increase so that buses would run every 12 minutes Monday to Saturday daytimes, and every 20 minutes on all evenings. On Sunday it would run every 15 minutes as now. The enhancements to the route are to compensate for the scrapping of route 72.
Route 49 which runs between Clapham Junction and White City - via Battersea, South Kensington, Gloucester Road, High Street Kensington, and Shepherd's Bush would now run between South Kensington and East Acton, via Wood Lane and White City. It would no longer run between Clapham Junction (Northcote Road) and South Kensington. TfL says these changes would create extra space on buses in the Wood Lane area where demand is growing due to development in the area. Bus routes 319 and 345 provide suitable alternative bus services between Clapham Junction and Kings Road and routes 19 and 345 serve South Kensington.
Route C3 between Clapham Junction and Warwick Road Tesco via Winstanley Estate, Imperial Wharf, World’s End, Earls Court Route C3 would no longer run. Key journey links would be retained by re-routing bus route 27 from High Street Kensington to Clapham Junction. TfL says there are currently a high number of buses running between Earls Court and Worlds End and the capacity being provided is not needed for the numbers of people who wish to use these services.
Route 430 between Danebury Avenue and Victoria & Albert Museum - via Roehampton, Putney, Lillie Road, West Brompton, and South Kensington would be rerouted between West Brompton and South Kensington via Earls Court Road and Cromwell Road. TfL says the proposed rerouting would also create new journey links for customers between Roehampton and Putney Station, to bus stops between Earls Court and Cromwell Road.
Route 27, which used to run through Chiswick before the service was truncated, now operates between Hammersmith and Camden/Chalk Farm via Mornington Crescent, Paddington, Regent’s Park, Notting Hill, Kensington, Olympia. TfL is proposing to reroute the 27 to operate between High Street Kensington and Clapham Junction to keep key journey links currently served by route C3 if it were to no longer run.
Route 328 currently runs between Golders Green and Chelsea Worlds End via West Hampstead, Kilburn, Notting Hill, Kensington and Earls Court. TfL is proposing to re-route bus route 328 from High Street Kensington to Hammersmith bus station. This would replace bus links between Notting Hill and Kensington Church Street with Hammersmith currently provided by route 27. If it were to be rerouted as proposed, route 328 would no longer serve stops between Kensington High Street and World’s End or Limerton Street.
Route 19 between Finsbury Park and Battersea Bridge southside - via Highbury Corner, Angel, Clerkenwell, Tottenham Court Road, Piccadilly Circus, Hyde Park, Knightsbridge, Sloane Square and Kings Road would now run via South Kensington serving Brompton Road, Fulham Road and Sydney Street. This would mean it would no longer serve Sloane Street and Sloane Square Underground Station and would instead serve bus stops close to South Kensington Underground Station. TfL says route 19 has excess space on board because customer demand has fallen, and that it is running more buses than it needs to along Kings Road and between Sloane Street and Piccadilly.
There will also be significant reductions in night buses where TfL says there is surplus capacity.
The N14 between Putney Heath and Russell Square via Putney, Fulham, South Kensington, Knightsbridge, Green Park, Piccadilly Circus would no longer run to be partially replaced by a night route N414 between Putney Heath and Tottenham Court Road.
It is proposed to convert the N27 to a 24-hour service – renumbering this route to 27(N) - between Chalk Farm and Hammersmith Via Camden, Euston, Paddington, Notting Hill and Kensington.
The N72 between East Acton and Roehampton via White City, Shepherds Bush, Hammersmith, Fulham, Barnes would no longer run.
Route N74 between Baker Street and Roehampton via Marble Arch, Kensington, Earls Court, Fulham, Putney would no longer run. A new night service route N430 would run between Roehampton and Marble Arch.
Greg Hands MP described the announcement as ‘shocking’ and said he would be fighting it all the way. He blamed the shortfall in TfL’s finances on the fares freeze, the ‘overly-generous’ Hopper Fare and freezing the daily bus cap at £4.50 for more than five years.
He said, “This comes just weeks after I submitted my petition calling on Sadiq Khan and TfL to reverse the cuts to the Number 14 bus. With over 1700 people signing this one petition and with stops which include Putney Bridge Station, Fulham Broadway and Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, the importance of this bus route to my constituents cannot be overstated.
“Furthermore, the Number 11 is one of the oldest bus routes in London, starting in 1906, with many residents using this route regularly to get from Fulham Broadway to Liverpool Street, whilst the 74 is a great service for Chelsea and Fulham residents travelling to Knightsbridge, Hyde Park or Baker Street. Similarly, the C3 is used frequently by constituents heading south of the river towards Clapham Junction Station or in the opposite direction up towards Earls Court Station.
“This decision comes as a result of Sadiq Khan’s financial incompetence and will seriously impact residents across my constituency.”
TfL says it has worked to ensure that the bus kilometres removed from the network are in locations that already have a higher provision of buses. It is claimed that the bus routes proposed for changes or withdrawal are already well served by other routes meaning services would more than meet demand and allow passengers to still make the same journeys, with an additional interchange in some instances. TfL says this approach will allow for investment in outer London where there is a need for more buses due to higher demand, whilst ensuring a continued reliable network of routes in central and inner London.
Currently, 19 per cent of journeys made on central London bus routes involve a change of bus. Under its proposals, TfL expects the proportion of customers who would need to change buses to increase to around 24 per cent. The Hopper Fare, which allows unlimited journeys within the hour for the price of a single fare, would ensure most customers don’t pay more. Those aged under 18 and over 60 would continue to benefit from free bus travel.
While buses remain the most popular form of transport in London, demand on many central and inner London bus routes has reduced. Ridership on some routes has been declining since 2014, and by 2019 passenger levels had fallen by nine per cent.
TfL’s current short-term funding deal expires on the 24 June. If a sustainable new agreement cannot be achieved, TfL says it could be required to reduce bus services by nearly 20 per cent which would require much more severe service reductions than in these current proposals.
Deputy Mayor for Transport, Seb Dance, said, “No one wants to see reductions to our bus network, but TfL is having to consider these changes because of the savings demanded by the Government as part of the emergency funding deals during the pandemic.
“TfL has looked carefully at the routes affected in order to reduce the impact on passengers as much as possible. Routes changed are ones where there are very similar existing services or where passengers would make use of the Mayor’s ‘Hopper’ fare to reach their destination.
“If TfL is to avoid further cuts which would damage our city’s economic recovery from this pandemic, the Government must do the right thing and come forward with a long term funding deal to support the capital’s public transport – as governments of almost all other major global cities do.”
The consultation on these cuts closes on 12 July.
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