diamond geezer

 Friday, June 08, 2018

Its easy to cut the frequency of a London bus route because almost nobody notices.

Cut the frequency of a tube or rail service and passengers yell. Cut an entire bus route, or trim one back, and a long public consultation is required. But for TfL to run less frequent buses than they used to, that's easy. All they have to do is publish their intention in a fortnightly online document hardly anyone looks at, and suddenly one day fewer buses run.

Here's a list of all the buses whose weekday daytime frequencies have been cut since June last year. In most cases the cut is about one bus an hour. If the cut is two buses an hour, the route number is in bold. If the cut is three or more, the route number is in bold and underlined.
5, 11, 14, 18, 22, 24, 28, 29, 31, 41, 42, 47, 48, 57, 58, 63, 74, 89, 92, 94, 100, 105, 106, 118, 119, 134, 156, 161, 163, 176, 187, 198, 200, 205, 210, 213, 222, 224, 225, 228, 230, 233, 236, 253, 264, 268, 269, 274, 276, 279, 281, 282, 285, 287, 319, 321, 327, 329, 343, 345, 349, 353, 368, 371, 384, 391, 430, 452, 483, 484, 488, 491, C1, C3, C11, E3, E6, H98, P12, RV1, U4, W11, W12
To save you counting, that's 83 different London bus routes whose frequencies have been cut since this time last year. Of the 543 daytime TfL bus routes, that's 15%. One in every six London bus routes now runs less often during the day than it used to. It's just as well nobody's noticed.

The most common cuts are from "every 8 minutes" to "every 10 minutes", and from "every 10 minutes" to "every 12 minutes". They're the kinds of cut it's hard to spot. People don't look at timetables any more, they focus on when the next bus will arrive, so it's easy not to twig that average waiting time has increased.

The biggest cut was on the RV1, the tourist-friendly bus which shuttles from Covent Garden to the Tower. Its frequency was halved in February, dropping from every 10 minutes to every 20, essentially no longer a turn-up-and-go service. That chop may have made the media, even if TfL held firm, but cuts on other routes have remained far below the radar.

In total, that's approximately 100 buses every hour which used to run this time last year, but no longer do. Over the course of a day that's well over 1000 buses removed, which adds up to a useful saving for a budget-strapped transport authority. TfL are trying to cut their annual bus mileage from 486 million km last year to 471 million km in 2018/19, so this'll help.

Most of these service cuts are "to match demand". If fewer people are using buses, it makes sense not to run them as often. Cut the service from, say, 6 buses an hour to 5, and everyone still travels, just squeezed onto slightly fewer vehicles. But there's also a potential vicious circle here. If buses arrive less frequently, or are packed out when they arrive, passengers may choose to divert to other means of transport, or not travel at all... and the service may be cut again.

Indeed this seems to be what's happened on two routes cut last year, and scheduled to be cut again this month. Route 31, which runs between White City and Camden Town, was cut last July from "every 6 minutes" to "every 7½ minutes". In two weeks time it's going down to "every 10 minutes", which'll be a total loss of 4 buses an hour. Likewise route 24, which runs between Hampstead and Pimlico, was cut last November from "every 7½ minutes" to "every 8 minutes", and will reduce to "every 10 minutes" by the end of the month. Either passenger numbers have fallen further, or TfL have cunningly concealed a large cut by introducing it in two smaller stages.

For balance, I should list all the buses whose weekday daytime frequency has increased in the last year. Here they are.
390, H14
The 390 is a special case, because it was rerouted last June to make up for a curtailment of route 73 at Oxford Circus. The only genuine increase is for route H14, an outer London connection between Hatch End and Northwick Park Hospital. That's 83 reductions in daytime services over the last year and one, maybe two, increases. The direction of travel is very much clear.

Bus frequencies are also being cut back at weekends.

Here's a list of all the buses whose Sunday frequencies have been cut since June last year.
5, 11, 14, 22, 24, 28, 29, 47, 63, 74, 92, 94, 100, 106, 134, 210, 222, 228, 268, 274, 282, 345, 391, 488, C3, H2
Sundays are an easy time to cut buses, because it's not a working day, and people are accustomed to waiting a bit longer. Trim a service from 6 buses an hour to 5, or from 5 to 4, and leisure-focused passengers probably won't complain.

And then there's overnight.

Here's a list of all the buses whose Friday and Saturday night frequencies have been cut since June last year. Again, bold signifies a cut of two buses an hour, and underlining means three or more.
6, 12, 14, 24, 25, 35, 36, 43, 53, 88, 94, 134, 148, 176, 242, 453, N3, N5, N8, N9, N15, N16, N19, N20, N22, N26, N29, N38, N41, N44, N55, N68, N73, N86, N87, N89, N91, N97, N98, N109, N155, N207, N253, N279
Weekend nightbus cuts have been particularly savage, as you can see from the amount of bold and underlining in that list. 45 routes have been affected altogether, that's a third of the overnight total. In particular, of the 50 N-something routes, which only run overnight, almost 60% have suffered weekend cuts.

24 nightbus routes have had two buses an hour removed, and eight routes have lost more than that. Route 25 has lost five buses an hour overnight. But the most savage chop was on the N29, where buses used to run every 3½ minutes between Trafalgar Square and Wood Green, and now run every 10. That's 10 buses an hour deleted.

Route 14 is another victim of two consecutive cuts, in July from "every 10 minutes" to "every 12 minutes", then in January down to "every 20 minutes". Meanwhile, compared to this time last year, an extra twenty nightbus routes now only run twice an hour. If you're a solo traveller at 3am, on a route with a newly-infrequent service, an Uber may appeal far more than a 30 minute wait.

There is a good reason why TfL are now running 500 fewer buses overnight on Fridays and Saturdays, and that's the Night Tube. This connects central London to all sorts of far flung outposts previously reliant on nightbuses, so there's little need for duplication. But the Night Tube can't always manage the last mile home, plus it's a more expensive way to travel, so shift workers are more likely to be getting a raw deal than occasional clubbers.

In summary, I've counted 83 bus routes whose weekday daytime frequencies have been cut over the last year, 26 bus routes trimmed on Sundays, and 45 nightbus routes culled on Friday and Saturday nights. Altogether, over 130 different London bus routes are affected.

The bus network is always kept under review to match demand, indeed there are bold plans to reshape the network after Crossrail arrives. There's no point TfL running buses if hardly anybody's aboard, and far better to be trimming buses than withdrawing routes altogether. But in a budget-strapped fare-frozen city, cutting bus frequencies remains the easiest way to cut provision and save money without anybody noticing.

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan21  Feb21  Mar21  Apr21  May21  Jun21
Jan20  Feb20  Mar20  Apr20  May20  Jun20  Jul20  Aug20  Sep20  Oct20  Nov20  Dec20
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19  Jun19  Jul19  Aug19  Sep19  Oct19  Nov19  Dec19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

» my flickr photostream

twenty blogs
ian visits
blue witch
the great wen
edith's streets
spitalfields life
in the aquarium
round the island
wanstead meteo
christopher fowler
ruth's coastal walk
the ladies who bus
round the rails we go
london reconnections
dirty modern scoundrel
from the murky depths
exploring urban wastelands

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
Things to do outside London
Inner London toilet map
The DG Tour of Britain

read the archive
Jun21  May21
Apr21  Mar21  Feb21  Jan21
Dec20  Nov20  Oct20  Sep20
Aug20  Jul20  Jun20  May20
Apr20  Mar20  Feb20  Jan20
Dec19  Nov19  Oct19  Sep19
Aug19  Jul19  Jun19  May19
Apr19  Mar19  Feb19  Jan19
Dec18  Nov18  Oct18  Sep18
Aug18  Jul18  Jun18  May18
Apr18  Mar18  Feb18  Jan18
Dec17  Nov17  Oct17  Sep17
Aug17  Jul17  Jun17  May17
Apr17  Mar17  Feb17  Jan17
Dec16  Nov16  Oct16  Sep16
Aug16  Jul16  Jun16  May16
Apr16  Mar16  Feb16  Jan16
Dec15  Nov15  Oct15  Sep15
Aug15  Jul15  Jun15  May15
Apr15  Mar15  Feb15  Jan15
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

the diamond geezer index
2020 2019 2018 2017 2016
2015 2014 2013 2012 2011
2010 2009 2008 2007 2006
2005 2004 2003 2002

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
unlost rivers
cube routes
Herbert Dip
capital ring
river fleet

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
doctor who
blue peter
peter pan
feng shui
leap year
bbc three
vision on
ID cards