Hackney implores TfL to listen on bus cuts
Hackney Council is asking Transport for London to review the impacts of their plans to change and cut bus routes in the borough and give serious consideration to the impact it would have on residents of Hackney.
The Council is grateful for the continued engagement undertaken over the plans including Scrutiny panel discussion, meetings with Council Officers and senior directors. Importantly they are asking TfL honor their pledge to listen, consider the insights provided and scale back the changes proposed.
In a consultation letter response provided to TfL the Council has further emphasised concerns expressed throughout engagement. These are that Hackney has already seen significant cutbacks to the Borough’s bus services in recent years including: the curtailment of Route 242 from Tottenham Court Road to St Paul’s; the curtailment of Routes 73/N73 from Victoria to Oxford Circus; more recently the cutback of of route 277 from Highbury Corner to Dalston severing a direct link from Well Street to that area; as well as frequency reductions in routes 42, 48, 106, 141, 236, 242, 243, 276, 349, 488, N38.
Together with the City, Hackney will be the worst affected borough by the plans: 16 of the 33 routes being changed, and two of the three routes being completely withdrawn are in Hackney. While no changes are deemed to have a high impact by TfL, five Hackney routes have a frequency reduction of 10-25%. This leaves Hackney, with few Underground d stations in comparison to central London, and residents that rely on the bus as a more affordable public transport option than the Overground, disproportionately affected by these cuts.
Planned routes cuts such as the 48 would sever a vital, direct link to London Bridge Station and Guy’s Hospital. The diversion and frequency reduction of the 242 would severe the link to St Paul’s and Liverpool Street to connect with the Central Line, as well as impact transport options in King’s Park. We have also seen changes to routes like the 277 creating ‘not spots’ for access to buses.
The Council has extended understanding on the financial pressures that TfL are under and the needs to make savings in the operation of the bus service, knowing how London now stands as the only major city in the western hemisphere to not have a subsidised transport system by central government. Going further, Mayor Glanville has offered to join TfL in any lobbying against the £700m government grant cut and asks TfL to make sensible and considerate changes to the bus service in Hackney appreciating the impact it will have on residents in the borough.
These cuts would leave our poorest residents worse off, disconnected from central London, and forced into overcrowded buses with longer wait-times. While we recognise that some can make use of the hopper fare and change buses, that is not an option for those with mobility issues and more difficult for those with young children and luggage. Where changes are introduced there needs to be investment in bus stops and infrastructure.
We have questioned the rationale for cuts based on data which indicates an overall drop in demand in Hackney and over-complicated routes for customers by pointing out that there are no breakdown on times of day or weekends provided. Also no evidence has been supplied of customer confusion nor have they been provided with any optioneering on these issues could be addressed in a less blunt way. Ultimately, we want TfL to honour their pledge to listen, consider our points and scale back the changes proposed.