Sadiq Khan slams brakes on plans to axe London bus routes

23 November 2022, 12:43 | Updated: 23 November 2022, 13:35

London bus routes have been saved
London bus routes have been saved. Picture: Getty

By Kit Heren

London transport bosses have reversed most of the cuts planned to the capital's bus routes, after a huge backlash by passengers.

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Transport for London (TfL) will only cut three of the 16 bus routes that it originally planned to cut, amid funding pressure from central government after its £1.2 billion bailout.

Read more: Fare rises and bus cuts warning despite TfL securing £1.2bn bailout from the Government

The transport agency said on Wednesday mayor Sadiq Khan had found an extra £25 million per year to save most of the routes, after more than 21,000 people took part in the consultation - a huge number.

A bus passes by the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben on...
A bus passes by the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben on... Picture: Getty
Bus routes were set to be cut as part of a TfL savings programme
Bus routes were set to be cut as part of a TfL savings programme. Picture: Getty
Sadiq Khan found an extra £25 million per year to help fund the buses
Sadiq Khan found an extra £25 million per year to help fund the buses. Picture: Getty

The three routes that TfL will still cut are the 507 from Waterloo to Victoria via Westminster, the 521 from Waterloo to London Bridge via the City, and the 332 from Paddington to Queen's Park.

Mr Khan said: "I was furious on behalf of Londoners that TfL was having to consider reducing the bus network due to conditions attached by the Government to the funding deal. The strength of feeling across the capital was clear to me, and I was adamant that I would explore every avenue available to me to save as many buses as possible.

“This will mean tough decisions elsewhere, but I am very pleased that the vast majority of bus routes proposed to be cut due to the Government’s funding conditions can now be saved. TfL has looked carefully at the small amount of routes still affected in order to reduce the impact on passengers as much as possible.

“Buses sit at the heart of the capital’s transport network and have a key role to play as we continue building a better, greener and fairer city for all Londoners.”

TfL held its public consultation on plans to axe up to 16 bus routes entirely and make changes to 78 more in order to meet savings targets imposed by the government as part of the emergency funding deal.

The proposed cuts to bus services in London would only have lead to savings of £35m per year.

Under the terms of its government bailout, TfL is required to make savings of £730 million per year to achieve financial sustainability.

Ex-TfL chief reacts as bus services are slashed

The following routes that TfL had consulted on will not be changed:

  • 4, 12, 14, 24, 31, 45, 72, 74, 78, 242, 349, C3, D7, N31, N72, N74 and N242 will be saved and kept as they currently operate

Planned minor changes to these bus routes will not go ahead either:

  • 15, 19, 27, 43, 47, 49, 53, 56, 88, 98, 100, 113, 135, 148, 171, 189, 205, 214, 236, 254, 259, 277, 279, 283, 328, 343, 388, 414, 430, 476, D3, N15, N19, N27, N98, N133, N205

Changes to these routes will still go ahead

  • 3, 6, 11, 23, 26, 59, 77, 133, 211, C10 and N26
A London bus this week
A London bus this week. Picture: Getty

Geoff Hobbs, TfL’s director of public transport service planning, said: “This new funding, alongside our detailed analysis of the extensive consultation feedback and emerging travel patterns, has allowed us to significantly reduce the scope of the changes.

“The proposals that we will be taking forward are those that have a minimal impact on Londoners, as they are areas with much higher provision of buses than there is demand."

Read more: Full list of London bus routes facing the axe in TfL cuts

Nick Rogers, GLA Conservatives transport spokesman, said: “Londoners have had the threat of their services being cut dangled in front of them completely unnecessarily for months, so I am glad Sadiq Khan has finally backed down and changed course.

“Sadiq Khan must now make the necessary reforms to ensure TfL’s funding is sustainable and not pass on the burden to passengers.”

TfL's finances, hit hard by the pandemic, appear to be recovering. Passenger income is up £600 million on last year, although still £400 million below pre-Covid levels, according to figures presented at TfL's finance committee last week.

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