Darryl's 853 blog had a cracking scoop on Wednesday, featuring leaked details of a massive set of changes to central London bus routes, due to be consulted on next month.
It's part of a high level TfL strategy to reshape London's bus network in readiness for future growth, which likely means a lot more fiddling with bus routes than we've seen for many a year.
One key issue is removing excess capacity where it's deemed not to be needed. Another is reducing over-bussing on crowded roads, where there are currently too many routes in place. And a third is "simplifying the network", a phrase TfL seem keen to use as a bit of uplifting spin, rather than as a negative reaction to budgetary strain.
Matching customer demand – bus demand has fallen by 8-12 per cent in central London and will fall more as a result of the opening of Crossrail and other new or improved rail services. Reducing buses on crowded roads – this will make our network run more efficiently, help improve journey times and reduce congestion, emissions and road danger. Modernising the network – we will improve bus services in several town centres to simplify services and reducing the number of buses, while still providing connections and access
Passengers in outer London, where demand for buses remains high, may see more services. Expect major announcements at the start of 2019. But demand in central London is falling for a variety of reasons, slower traffic being just one, hence TfL's urge to kick off here and trim things back.
This first mega-consultation is due to launch in the third week of September, once details have been shared and finalised with borough representatives and other stakeholders. But the list of proposals is already drawn up, and likely won't change much, so I thought I'd share a summary below. Darryl has additional detail here, including some illuminating slides from TfL's high level Powerpoint presentation.
Embarrassingly, because TfL no longer produce their own bus maps, the official presentation had to resort to using an external map produced by charity worker Mike Harris. Even the last official TfL bus map will be three years out of date by the time this tranche of changes is pushed through, and entirely obsolete, so don't expect to ever see an overview of what the evolving reshaped network actually looks like. Muppets.
My table includes other central London routes currently up for consultation, or where outcomes have not yet been announced, but 28 of the routes in the list below are appearing for the first time. Skimming down the list should give you an extra month to mull over what you'd like to say in response, before the six week consultation period actually begins.
Crystal Palace to Trafalgar Square
Crystal Palace to Whitehall
Archway to Waterloo
Archway to Blackfriars
Hammersmith to Aldwych
reroute via Piccadilly, not Pall Mall
Hammersmith to King's Cross
merged with route 23
Fulham Broadway to Liverpool Street
Victoria to Liverpool Street (see 311)
Putney to Warren Street
Putney to Russell Square
Trafalgar Square to Tower Hill
summer weekends and bank holidays only
Finsbury Park to Battersea
Finsbury Park to Holborn (see 311)
Putney to Oxford Circus (via Mayfair)
Putney to Piccadilly Circus (see 311)
Westbourne Park to Aldwych
Westbourne Park to Hammersmith (see 10)
Ilford to Oxford Circus
Ilford to Holborn Circus
Dulwich to Aldgate
Dulwich to Clerkenwell Green (see 45/388)
Clapham Park to King's Cross
Clapham Park to Elephant and Castle
Walthamstow to London Bridge
route withdrawn (see 55)
Plumstead to Whitehall
Plumstead to County Hall
Leyton to Oxford Circus
Walthamstow to Oxford Circus (see 48)
Streatham Hill to King's Cross
Streatham Hill to Euston
Wood Green to Aldgate
Wood Green to Dalston Junction
Tottenham Hale to Waterloo
reroute via London Wall (see 4)
Clapham Common to Camden Town
Clapham Common to Parliament Hill (see C2)
Acton Green to Piccadilly Circus
Acton Green to Marble Arch
Shadwell to London Wall
Shadwell to St Paul's (see 388)
Edgware to Oxford Circus
Edgware to Marble Arch
North Finchley to Tottenham Court Road
North Finchley to Warren Street
Streatham to Marble Arch
Streatham to Oxford Circus
Bellingham to Holborn
Bellingham to Elephant & Castle
Brockley Rise to Farringdon
Brockley Rise to Aldwych
Bow Church to Paddington
re-route to skip Marylebone station
Homerton to St Paul's
Homerton to Aldgate
New route (see 11/19/22)
Fulham Broadway to Oxford Circus
Northumberland Park to County Hall
Northumberland Park to Waterloo Road
New Cross Gate to City Hall
[subject to separate review]
Stratford City to Elephant & Castle
Stratford City to Finsbury Circus
Northumberland Park to Euston
Northumberland Park to King's Cross
Oxford Circus to Parliament Hill
route withdrawn (see 88)
Covent Garden to Tower Hill
[subject to separate review]
Many of the proposed changes are to ease traffic flow on specific road corridors:
• Euston Road: 59, 476
• Oxford Street: 10, 23, 94, 113, 159
• Tottenham Court Road: 14, 134
• King's Road/Piccadilly/Shaftesbury Avenue: 9, 11, 19, 22 (and new route 311)
• Whitehall/Westminster Bridge: 3, 53
• Kingsway: 171
• Waterloo Bridge/Fleet Street: 4, 76, 172, 341, 15H
• London Bridge/Blackfriars Bridge/Farringdon Road: 35, 40, 45, 100, 343, 388, RV1
• London Bridge/Hackney Road: 26, 48, 55
The only newly-doomed route is the 48 (joining the 10 and C2 which went to consultation earlier this month). Someone's looked at its route and decided it shadows the 26 and 55 too much, so a kick of the 55 into Walthamstow means the 48 can safely be scrapped. Then there's the almost-demise of the heritage Routemasters on route 15, which currently run daily, but in future will only roll out on bank holidays and summer weekends... which should help potential passengers to entirely forget the route exists, so it can be wholly scrapped later.
A few routes are being chopped to shadows of their former selves, including the 242 which has been sequentially cut back from Tottenham Court Road to St Paul's and now to Aldgate. Savage reductions in length are also proposed for routes 11 and 19, their decapitations mostly covered by new route 311. The 311 will also take over from route 22 through Mayfair, becoming the fourth different bus on the Mayfair route in less than ten years... as if nobody who plans bus routes quite knows where any of this is going.
The 45 and 171 face big cuts which'll see them both terminate at Elephant & Castle, far short of central London. while the 67 gets a similarly big curtailment to Dalston Junction from the north. Then there's the sorry tale of the 388 from Stratford, which fairly recently was extended across the Thames to Elephant & Castle to replace the 100, but is now to be lopped back to Finsbury Circus, close to where the 100 currently terminates, but the new plan is for the 100 to be partially extended... and again it feels like the planners are simply messing about.
Other things to note. The rerouting of routes 9, 40 and 341 appears to mean that Pall Mall, Fenchurch Street and Fetter Lane will no longer have a bus service. Check the consultation when it officially emerges to see if this is genuinely the case. The beleaguered RV1 is to be "subject to separate review", which following the recent halving of its frequency can only suggest that a much more serious fate awaits. And it seems the long-promised beheading of route 25 to Holborn Circus is still on the cards, severing the East End's link to the West End, and without a decent connection to take its place. [Update: Yes, that's been confirmed today, as part of another enormous consultation reveal]
It does make sense not to run buses filled with empty seats, especially now Mayoral fare policies have made this an untenable luxury. It does make sense to reduce traffic congestion by taking out some buses so that others can run more smoothly. But the breaking of long-held connections is a harder pill to swallow, resulting in increased journey times partially mitigated by use of the Hopper fare, which may just be what a "simpler network" is all about.
Watch out for the full consultation in mid-September. And know this... there's more coming.