Outer London bus usage recovering fastest say TfL with Bexley at 98 per cent

Figures on bus usage across London shows that outer London has seen some of the strongest recovery since 2020.

One borough that’s nearly back to prior levels is Bexley which is at 98 per cent of 2019 levels in a sample period with Greenwich at 91 per cent.

Transport for London showed bus passengers during a week in November 2023 compared to 2019 in a Bus Action Plan report.

While government owned Southeastern cut services public transport links to Crossrail, TfL enhanced them

One major catalyst is likely to be the Elizabeth line. Transport for London have previously stated that bus usage more than doubled around Abbey Wood when services begun.

While government-controlled Southeastern have cut rail services, the Elizabeth line has drawn many users from across a wide area.

That gap is likely to grow given rail fares are up again after the Department for Transport decided on a 4.9 per cent increase while TfL-controlled fares remain the same. The gap grows wider year after year.

Superloop SL3 at Abbey Wood heading non stop to Bexleyheath station then onto Sidcup station

Areas such as Sidcup have lost their direct trains to Abbey Wood, though TfL have swooped and last week saw the launch of a direct, limited stop bus to Abbey Wood station.

Superloop route SL3 also travels directly between Bexleyheath station and Abbey Wood supplementing route 301 which was launched in advance of the Elizabeth line.

Route 301 seen at Bexleyheath before heading to Abbey Wood and then Woolwich

The report also contained other snippets of information including a reduction in demand during peak hours across London while off-peak has held up to a greater degree.

Sunday’s are now pretty much back to 2019 levels.

Changes in ridership

Across all times however London’s bus network continues to struggle with passenger levels some way below 2019 levels, which was already a period that followed years of declines.

Compared to other TfL modes such as the tube, DLR and London Overground it lags a long way behind levels seen in the mid 2010s.

The new Superloop network could give it a shot in the arm, with many routes linking to rail networks more quickly than all-stopping routes. Time will tell.


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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.

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