'Cultural vandalism': Two Tory MPs fighting to block Sadiq Khan's cuts to parts of number 11 bus route

18 April 2023, 09:31

Tory MPs trying to stop Sadiq Khan's cuts to number 11 bus route

Henry Riley

By Henry Riley

When you contemplate the various landmarks of London, and consider why people visit the capital, often you will hear about the London Eye, Big Ben, and perhaps even Madame Tussauds?

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Not according to the Conservative Chairman. For Greg Hands, the pinnacle of a visit to London is to ride the number 11 bus, which he believes is under threat.

That’s why Mr Hands, along with the Conservative MP Nickie Aiken, has launched a campaign to ‘save the bus’, which is having its route drastically altered.

The long-running bus has serviced London for more than 100 years since its inception in 1906. Whilst boasting this title of being one of the capital's oldest buses, it also enjoys other accolades, such as being the slowest bus in the capital. Indeed, a slow jog of just over 5 miles per hour would see you comfortably overtake the vehicle.

The route has been a London icon for years
The route has been a London icon for years. Picture: London Bus Museum

Transport for London, after a consultation, is changing various services in Central & Inner London. This means that the Number 11, instead of running from Fulham Broadway, through Westminster and the City of London, to Liverpool Street, will instead run from Fulham Broadway to Waterloo.

“It's cultural vandalism” exhales Greg Hands, as he leans on a Number 11 bus stop at Sloane Square Station. He tells me that in an attempt to save the bus, he has applied to UNESCO, to make the route a World Heritage site. “We’ve taken inspiration from President Macron in France with what he did with the French baguette”, perhaps the first, and last, time a Conservative politician will gleefully admit to taking advice from Le President.

Number Eleven Bus Turns at City Junction
Number Eleven Bus Turns at City Junction. Picture: Getty

But why is the route being axed? TfL claims that this is to meet funding requirements set by the government and that there are numerous transport alternatives on the route. Conservative Nickie Aiken says the blame lies squarely at the door of Sadiq Khan “he’s out of touch!”.

The bus, which enjoyed a cameo appearance in the blockbuster film The DaVinchi Code, is due to come to an end on the 29th of April. “The week of the coronation”, Nickie Aiken furiously points out.

The bus route is due to end in just over a week, despite the protestations of the two Tory MPs
The bus route is due to end in just over a week, despite the protestations of the two Tory MPs. Picture: Getty

“Visit any postcard seller in London”, Greg Hands adds, “they’ve got Buckingham palace, The Houses of Parliament, perhaps the late Queen… and the number 11 bus!” Perhaps there is a bit of humorous mischief making intertwined with this campaign to save the iconic bus route, but considering the bus services much of the Greg Hands’ (Chelsea & Fulham), and Nickie Aiken’s (Cities of London & Westminster) constituency, you can understand the commotion.

With the bus route due to end in just over a week, despite the protestations of the two Tory MPs, I’m afraid it might have to be a taxi for Greg Hands and Nickie Aiken (to make it to the coronation).