London Tory borough asks TfL to reconsider planned bus service reductions

London Tory borough asks TfL to reconsider planned bus service reductions

The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council (RBKC) has asked Transport for London to reverse plans to reduce the service frequency of seven bus routes that run through the area, saying that “many bus journeys are made by older and disabled people” and arguing that fewer buses serving the visitor attraction areas of South Kensington and King’s Road will impede London’s economic recovery.

In a letter to TfL Commissioner Andy Byford following a meeting with him last week, Conservative-run RBKC Leader Elizabeth Campbell and Johnny Thalassites, the council’s Lead Member for Planning, Place and the Environment, say they are “deeply concerned” about proposals for less frequent services on routes 7, 9, 11, 22, 27, 49 and 148 and changes to route 19, and they claim that “neither the council nor residents were asked to comment before you informed us about the cuts”.

The appeal to Byford comes as TfL informs Londoners of service cuts affecting route 149 between Edmonton Green and London Bridge and routes 68, 188 and 168, which follow earlier cuts to routes 507 and 521 out of Waterloo station and to flagship route 38 linking Clapton and Victoria station. TfL’s website page informing passengers of bus “changes” includes a number of references to “widening frequency”.

Campbell and Thalassites add that it was “alarming to hear that TfL’s priority is to protect services in outer London at the expense of inner London”, where the capital’s economic activity is largely concentrated. It has been TfL policy since 2018 to reduce the capital’s bus network capacity, with some redistribution to suburban areas.

Pressure to cut further has increased with the collapse of ridership due to the pandemic and with members of Boris Johnson’s national government team requiring a “review” of demand as a condition of providing TfL with short-term emergency financial support.

This was postponed from July following a campaign by transport-users’ watchdog London TravelWatch and others, but the fear remains that buses, which are the capital’s most-used form of public transport, are seen as a soft target for a central government administration which has seized control of London’s devolved transport body during the pandemic and imposed its own priorities.

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Categories: News

5 Comments

  1. Cezary Bednarski says:

    Full support for my council on this occasion. No7 stops outside of my house and if it rains and I do not cycle to work, I take it. Also while flying away, I take 7 to Paddington / Heathrow Express. It is correct that as a resident I knew nothing about the TFL’s plans.

  2. JRichards says:

    K&C council’s attitude is commendable. Consider Westminster City Council which has not, I think, argued against the cuts in bus routes and numbers in the West End area that have left elderly residents struggling to get to health service appointments.

    NHS services that used to be local were concentrated in fewer specialist units, requiring two buses to get to them. Now it takes three buses, hard for the less-able who cannot use the underground.

  3. Nick says:

    Graham: the cuts are being done by TfL who is overseen by the (Labour) Mayor who has a track record of cutting bus frequencies and routes. However it is a representation of how the culture in TfL has over the past 6 years downgraded buses and users

  4. Irene Richards says:

    Nick – tfl is being forced into these cuts by the Johnson government. It’s already undermined the independence of tfl by placing their own people on the board.

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