Today sees the day that’s been long expected – and feared – as a wide range of London bus routes look set to axed.
Transport for London has launched a consultation into cutting numerous routes after years of trimming away at frequencies across London.
Other routes would be altered or curtailed such as the 53. It would end at Elephant and Castle. It’s only a short while since it was cut back from Whitehall to County Hall south of the Thames.
Recent bus changes for Crossrail in south east London, for example, also came alongside frequency cuts including the major 472 route from North Greenwich station to Abbey Wood station.
Routes completely for the chop in today’s plans are 4, 11, 12, 14, 16, 24, 31, 45, 72, 74, 78, 242, 349, 521, C3, D7.
Arguments will rage as to why this is happening. Bus routes in London are cross-subsidised by Underground services, or at least were until the pandemic.
The Treasury cut £700 million in annual funding to TfL some years before the pandemic, with business rates expected to meet the shortfall.
Since the pandemic begun ever tighter pressure from the Department for Transport and Treasury upon TfL has been applied ensuring major cuts. This is also ongoing with national rail.
However in figures out today passenger numbers continue to increase across the country and across buses, rail and the Underground. On some days exceeding 90 per cent of pre pandemic norms.
Others factors will see some blame the Mayors fare freeze for harming TfL funding.
Projects such as the Silvertown tunnel are also taking TfL funding during a time of extreme budgetary pressure. While the bulk of the funding is a PFI-type deal with Riverlinx who are constructing the tunnel and later claiming tolls, TfL are separately paying substantial sums.
Crossrail overruns have also seen TfL taking on additional loans.
The timing is also perhaps no surprise with the Elizabeth line opening. It was always expected that upon opening, inner London bus routes would be reduced. And right on cue…
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