Transport for London look at changes to three major bus routes

TfL have today launched a consultation on altering three bus routes serving major areas of regeneration in south east London.

Routes 1, 168 and 188 serve major areas of future housebuilding including Elephant & Castle, the Old Kent Road, Surrey Quays, Rotherhithe and north Greenwich.

Current services

Route 168 would be cut with part of that route absorbed by the 1.

Proposed services

The 188 doesn’t see any major changes at North Greenwich with a change of northern destination.

The northern areas of the Old Kent Road does see a loss of services if the 168 is removed.

35-floor tower in Rotherhithe now under construction

There are plans for around 600 homes in this area of the Old Kent Road including the Rich Industrial Estate.

Transport for London lists these proposals:

  • Merge routes 1 (between Tottenham Court Road and Canada Water) and route 168 (between Hampstead Heath and Old Kent Road) introducing a new route operating between Hampstead Heath and Canada Water (provisionally numbered route 1).This new route would operate at the same frequency as the 168 (one bus every 7.5 – 8 minutes Monday to Saturday during the day and every 10 – 12 minutes in the evenings and on Sundays)
  • Maintain a night route between Tottenham Court Road and Thamesmead. This night route would operate with the same structure as the current N1.
  • Cut back route 188 from Russell Square to Holborn and reroute to Tottenham Court Road. This would replace the connections route 1 currently provides between Tottenham Court Road and Kingsway. The rest of route 188 would remain the same.

TfL have gradually been cutting bus routes in recent years, and generally these reductions are focused on Zone 1.

3,000 homes approved at Surrey Quays shopping centre

They state that routes between “central London and Elephant and Castle have a very high frequency of buses, between 35 and 90 buses per hour, meaning a bus arrives at least every two minutes. This is contrasted by a stark decrease in bus usage and passenger demand for buses. We anticipate this reduced passenger demand will continue post-pandemic; therefore, we want to simplify the bus network, and better match bus services to passenger demand.”.

If cuts do happen, one obvious question is whether future service levels will be sufficient for changes in various areas when new developments complete and residents move in.

Plans for Elephant & castle. Shopping centre demolition has just completed

Elephant & Castle will see 3,000 homes at Elephant Park by 2025, and the shopping centre development sees over 1,100.

The forthcoming opening of Crossrail pays a part in these changes, though if negotiations go badly between the Department for Transport, Treasury and TfL do not go well far bigger cuts could be made.

Government have yet to start talking to TfL with just three weeks to go until the next funding deadline.

Click here to view the consultation.


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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.

4 thoughts on “Transport for London look at changes to three major bus routes

  • The new route (nunber to be confirmed) would be Hampstead Heath to Canada Water with the loss of routes 1 and 168 .Route 1 has run for over 100 years. So will be strange not having a route 1 serving Central London.

    Not sure if the new route will get brand new buses or possibly use the new routemasters from route 168.

    Route 188 will become North Greenwich Station to Tottenham Court Road and no longer serve Russell Square.

    We appreciate passenger numbers have reduced in Central London since the pandemic and many areas in Central London have the underground as an alternative to the bus.

    However, we are not seeing the promise from the Mayor of London to improve bus services in Outer London when cutting bus services in Central London.

    Many bus Services in Outer London are still seeing cuts to frequencies. With no real investment in the public transport including bus services despite an ever growing population in London as new developments are completed across Greater London.

  • I would now like to see the cuts reversed on route 53 Plumstead Station to County Hall so the route once again runs further in to Central London at least as far as Trafalgar Square/Charing Cross. To maintain the Central London bus link for the Plumstead, Woolwich, Charlton and Blackheath areas.

  • I agree Route 53 is now a shadow of it’s former self. It used to operate between Plumstead Common and Camden Town,/Parlaiment Hill Fields. Berfore being cut back to Oxford Circus then further cut back to Whitehall Horseguards and now cut back again to County Hall.

    This part of south East London and neighbouring boroughs of Bexley and Lewisham are often forgotten when it comes to improving bus services. We have seen our fair share of cuts to bus services serving Central London with routes 53 171 172 and 436 curtailed our re-routed away from Central London. Not everyone is comfortable or able to use trains or the underground and much prefer to use a bus.

    Also bus fares are cheaper for people getting to and from work in Central London including people empoyed by the NHS and in the hospitality sector including domestic staff who are often on lower wages.

  • Absoloutely agree. We need our Central London bus link provided by route 53 which remains a very busy bus and well used bus route. I wonder if TFL plan to review routes 53 and 453 as part of the Central London bus services review.

    The Borough of Greenwich is still poorly served by Central London bus services. We have no bus services towards the City to use as the alternative to the train or underground. As people have rightly said not everyone feels safe or are able to use the train or undergrond services.


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