Dozens of London bus routes are to be axed or curtailed under plans published today by Transport for London.
The capital’s transport agency is facing significant funding pressures as a result of Mayor Sadiq Khan’s pledge to freeze fares for his entire first term and the withdrawal of central government grants.
Despite a focus on securing more commercial revenue and cutting costs by reducing staff numbers, TfL’s efforts to balance its books have been hindered by lower than expected fares income as passenger journeys on some transport modes fall.
Managers are also now having to rework their income assumptions following the delay to Crossrail’s opening, a decision which will cost it both additional fare and commercial income.
Over the past year spending has been slashed in a number of areas, including reductions in Tube track work and cuts to road repairs, and TfL has now confirmed plans to axe and shorten bus routes it claims are “underused and inefficient”.
The plans, which are subject to a public consultation, would be the most radical overhaul of the bus service in 16 years and would mean passengers having to wait longer for buses on 8 routes (53, 59, 205, N205, 242, 388, 476) and the axing of three more (48, 271 and RV1).
One new route would be created and five routes (26, 35, 46, 149 and 242) would see frequencies increased.
Other routes would either be ‘restructured’ or shortened.
TfL insists that passengers would be able to use other nearby routes to complete their journey and that the Hopper Fare, which allows for a free change of bus within an hour of starting a journey, would mean no-one has to pay more to complete their trip.
Geoff Hobbs, Director of Public Transport Service Planning at TfL, said: “Buses have a crucial role to play in boosting the number of people using public transport, but they can’t do this without reflecting how London has changed.
“It is only right that we reassess the network after the significant changes in both London’s infrastructure and how Londoners choose to travel. Londoners expect their buses to be where they are needed and run in an efficient and cost-effective manner and that’s what this review is about.”