Big bus cuts on the way in SE London?

Greenwich Council’s consultation into the Charlton Masterplan and Woolwich Road has revealed some TfL plans for bus services alongside other ideas to re-work the streets in the area.

Here’s a few points raised in the study by Urban Movement

  • Reducing peak frequency of the 472 bus from 12 at present to 7.5 per hour. The route will see extension at its eastern end to serve Abbey Wood station due to Crossrail’s arrival.
  • Diverting the 180 at Charlton to serve North Greenwich instead of Lewisham. This potentially cuts links between Abbey Wood, Plumstead, Woolwich and Charlton and Lewisham. The painfully slow and single decker 380 would be the only link and little use to many Plumstead or Abbey Wood residents.

Let’s not forget that trains between these towns and Lewisham could also be permanently removed as a result of Thameslink plans.

Here’s a screengrab from the report:


People could use a train and then DLR from Greenwich to Lewisham. However,taking a train and changing to the DLR costs £1.90 off-peak and £2.10 peak from Charlton and rising 10p a year whilst it’s frozen north of the river. From Abbey Wood it’s £2.10 off-peak and £2.50 in the peak. These options are all more expensive than a bus. Over the Thames and it’s £1.50 for a single journey on trains and the DLR outside of Zone 1 at off-peak times (£1.70 peak).

The prospect of making fares fairer with a TfL takeover of Southeastern, which would likely have reduced them to the same level as other parts of London, now appears to be off after Transport Secretary Chris Grayling blocked the London Mayor and TfL from a takeover.

And there’s this worrying statement about total bus numbers:

“Overall, it is proposed that bus frequency along the Woolwich Road is
set to reduce by approximately 4 buses per hour, while the main flow of buses
into North Greenwich reduces by 1 bus per hour overall as a result of the 180
being diverted.”

If that really is a cut of one bus to North Greenwich then we can assume that crowding levels will be extremely high with at least 20,000 homes coming to the Peninsula, St Mary Magdalene school for 1600 pupils opening in 2018 plus other planned schools, 7,500 homes at Charlton Riverside (with 1,000 homes already in for planning), 350 homes planned nearby in Charlton and a slew of proposals across Woolwich.


We know many people use buses from places like Woolwich (Zone 4) to North Greenwich (Zone 2) to save hundreds of pounds a year on travel costs.

Abbey Wood and Woolwich Crossrail stations will likely take a hefty number of those people but it’s still zone 4 and so a fair few will stick to the cheaper option. It’s £1320 for an annual Zone 1-2 travelcard (which also allows use on any bus even beyond Zone 2) and £1892 for Zone 1-4. Almost £600 saved a year by taking a bus to North Greenwich from Woolwich.


The poor cycle lanes in the area are also mentioned in the report. Cycle Superhighway 4 will now be curtailed from central London to Greenwich instead of Woolwich. The document states consultation on extension is not planned at all up to 2020.

The report states that removing the central reservation of the dual carriageway would also allow wider paving and dedicated cycle lanes if CS4 ever arrives.

Bugsby’s Way

The plan is to re-direct traffic to Bugsby’s Way instead of Woolwich Road. Great, but what about all those homes and shops being built increasingly close to Bugsby’s Way? Many new residents moving to the Peninsula need to cross Bugsby’s Way to reach shops and many other amenities. This suggestion seems to overlook this massive change in the residential population.

And forcing more traffic down Anchor and Hope lane contradicts plans to make this a new High Street.

Bus lanes

This is proposed on the dual carriageway. This stretch of road rarely has delays to buses so there’s a danger no problem becomes a problem. Restricting cars to one lane could cause tailbacks on approach roads delaying buses. This has happened in the past at Plumstead and Woolwich.


The report has the same fears about a green bridge as I do. It will not be used by many as people at street level, such as pupils at the school beside, will have to climb stairs and/or ramps to cross. And on the north side the topography dropping towards the Thames would mean long ramps eating into park space. Plus the space under a bridge could induce anti-social behaviour. Some similar bridges are pretty gloomy underneath. And it costs £12 million instead of 750k for a single stage crossing such as this:

Bus stand at Charlton

This area near the station, originally for the bus link to the Millenium Dome in 2000, is proposed to be removed:

 Woolwich Road
Two options are planned in its place. Either a park or buildings:

So based on information within this report by Urban Movement bus users seem to take some big knocks. Of course the report could well be missing out planned enhancement’s elsewhere, though why these are not covered is a mystery if they are planned.

In 2015 George Osbourne cut TfL’s annual budget by £700 million a year by 2020. London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s fare freeze is being blamed for exacerbating this issue but when London already has the most expensive fares of any capital in the western world (in excess of almost all European and North American cities) then a fare freeze seems fair.

Given the cuts from central government, and Whitehall preventing many avenues for local taxation or income (eg utilising land around stations to a wider degree such as in Hong Kong) we knew some cuts would be likely. But if they fall in this area that’s an extremely misguided step.


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J Smith

I've lived in south east London most of my life growing up in Greenwich borough and working in the area for many years. The site has contributors on occasion and we cover many different topics. Living and working in the area offers an insight into what is happening locally.

    12 thoughts on “Big bus cuts on the way in SE London?

    • Thanks for this. It sounds disastrous. I’m trying to spread the news. Jan

      Sent from my iPhone


    • This is not the 1st cuts to bus services. Look at Central London, lots of routes being cut. And there will be many more to come all over London. TfL are in a mess financially, cutting staff all over the place, so cutting buses out saves them money. Buses are no longer for the public, it is all about making money for the operating companies. Bus usage is down, so it will only be a matter of time until staff are laid off from bus garages when they cut bus numbers. Mayor is to blame for bus passengers numbers down, hated cycle super highways and too many minicabs have been licensed, causing congestion, making buses too unreliable. Watch this space, things will only get worse!!!

    • Thank you for this website I’ve been following it for a few years now and really appreciate the effort you put in to it.

      With regards to buses and North Greenwich they can get rid of any bus stop between the Odeon and North Greenwich, improve the walkway from Millennium Village South and encourage them to walk (lazy sods, stop getting on the 161 it’s infrequent enough and you are taking a seat for someone trying to get to Eltham or Chislehurst!).

      It does feel as though South East London is ignored by mayor after mayor, maybe the answer is for us all to rally behind one person and get a South East London Mayor who can focus on us for once.

    • How ridiculous to cut the frequency of the buses, I have to get the 472 to work and it’s hard enough to actually get on one as it is and when I do manage to get on one that hasn’t driven past because it is full up it’s like being in a sardine tin. TFL haven’t got a clue, it’s all about the money for them.

    • It’s a shame with the bus reductions but I think TfL will make this cost neutral as the Buses are losing their subsidy. Unfortunately Ken Livingstone was the savour of the bus network and Boris and Khan don’t seem to prioritise them.

      I think it would be better for SE London to try and shift people of using North Greenwich (due to the massive house developments round there) and the Greenwich line as people struggle to get on a train at Deptford and Greenwich.

    • So the buses are being diverted to Bugsby Way. What about the hundreds of new flats built on Woolwich Road and Blackwall Lane? With even more being built as we speak. There’s not enough buses now in peak times to cope.

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    • I’ll welcome what should be an increase in overall capacity between Woolwich and North Greenwich with the diversion of the 180, but it shouldn’t be done at the expensive of the links to Lewisham

    • It’s 645:am in Charlton on Woolwich Rd, 30+ deep at the bus stop and the 472s are whizzing past already, too full to stop. Tfl’s solution is to cut this service?! Am I missing something?

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