diamond geezer

 Friday, August 17, 2018

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 Even the last official TfL bus map will be three years out of date by the time this tranche of changes is pushed through, and entirely obsolete, so don't expect to ever see an overview of what the evolving reshaped network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.

RouteCurrent situationProposed changeResult
3Crystal Palace to Trafalgar SquareCrystal Palace to Whitehallsmall cut
4Archway to WaterlooArchway to Blackfriarsmedium cut
9Hammersmith to Aldwychreroute via Piccadilly, not Pall Mallre-route
10Hammersmith to King's Crossmerged with route 23 WITHDRAWN 
11Fulham Broadway to Liverpool StreetVictoria to Liverpool Street (see 311)big cut
14Putney to Warren StreetPutney to Russell Squaresmall cut
15HTrafalgar Square to Tower Hillsummer weekends and bank holidays onlyALMOST
19Finsbury Park to BatterseaFinsbury Park to Holborn (see 311)big cut
22Putney to Oxford Circus (via Mayfair)Putney to Piccadilly Circus (see 311)re-route
23Westbourne Park to AldwychWestbourne Park to Hammersmith (see 10)merged
25Ilford to Oxford CircusIlford to Holborn Circusmedium cut
40Dulwich to AldgateDulwich to Clerkenwell Green (see 45/388)re-route
45Clapham Park to King's CrossClapham Park to Elephant and Castlebig cut
48Walthamstow to London Bridgeroute withdrawn (see 55)WITHDRAWN
53Plumstead to WhitehallPlumstead to County Hallsmall cut
55Leyton to Oxford CircusWalthamstow to Oxford Circus (see 48)extended
59Streatham Hill to King's CrossStreatham Hill to Eustonsmall cut
67Wood Green to AldgateWood Green to Dalston Junctionbig cut
76Tottenham Hale to Waterlooreroute via London Wall (see 4)re-route
88Clapham Common to Camden TownClapham Common to Parliament Hill (see C2) extended
94Acton Green to Piccadilly CircusActon Green to Marble Archmedium cut
100Shadwell to London WallShadwell to St Paul's (see 388) extended 
113Edgware to Oxford CircusEdgware to Marble Archsmall cut
134North Finchley to Tottenham Court Road North Finchley to Warren Streetsmall cut
159Streatham to Marble ArchStreatham to Oxford Circussmall cut
171Bellingham to HolbornBellingham to Elephant & Castlebig cut
172Brockley Rise to FarringdonBrockley Rise to Aldwychmedium cut
205Bow Church to Paddingtonre-route to skip Marylebone stationre-route
242Homerton to St Paul'sHomerton to Aldgatemedium cut
311New route (see 11/19/22)Fulham Broadway to Oxford CircusNEW ROUTE
341Northumberland Park to County HallNorthumberland Park to Waterloo Roadre-route
343New Cross Gate to City Hall[subject to separate review]unknown
388Stratford City to Elephant & CastleStratford City to Finsbury Circusbig cut
476Northumberland Park to EustonNorthumberland Park to King's Crosssmall cut
C2Oxford Circus to Parliament Hillroute withdrawn (see 88)WITHDRAWN
RV1Covent Garden to Tower Hill[subject to separate review]unknown

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.

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