At a time when the London Bus franchising system is being regarded as the holy grail of bus operations, Transport for London is planning to make a huge swathe of cuts to bus routes in the centre of the capital – including stopping three of south-east London’s most important bus routes short of their current terminals.
Route 53, which runs from Plumstead, Woolwich, Charlton and Blackheath through Deptford, the Old Kent Road and Elephant & Castle to Whitehall will be cut back to County Hall from March 2019 under proposals to “reduce bus flows” across Westminster Bridge and along Whitehall, if the plans go ahead.
A worse fate is set to befall route 171 from Catford Bus Garage and Brockley to Holborn. This would be cut back from Holborn to Elephant and Castle under the scheme.A third route, the 172 from Brockley Rise, faces being trimmed back from Clerkenwell to Aldwych.
The scheme affects routes from across London, and also brings a permanent end for Routemaster services a step closer, proposing reducing the “heritage” services on route 15 along Fleet Street using the vintage vehicles to summer weekends and bank holidays only.
Campaign group Save Our Buses (SOB) claims it has seen leaked documents saying the number 48 which runs between Walthamstow bus station and London Bridge is set to go out to consultation.
Transport for London’s proposals come as it battles financial worries after a complete cut in day-to-day government funding instituted by George Osborne when he was chancellor. It is also having to deal with a four-year fare freeze from mayor Sadiq Khan, and a fall in bus passenger numbers.
It has already planned to cut bus services between Greenwich and Woolwich by re-routing route 180 to North Greenwich station instead of Lewisham. There have also been a series of cuts to bus frequencies, especially on night services.