Have you ever experienced total frustration when someone doesn’t act on something everyone else sees as being sensible because they can’t see it, or refuse to do so? 

The 603 bus route covers many of the private schools along its route from Muswell Hill to Swiss Cottage, via Highgate, Hampstead and Belsize. 

It is ideal for transporting school children from home to their schools in the morning, and back home in the afternoon.

It’s the dream solution to relieving congestion, achieving sustainability as well as meeting the needs of many.  

However, TfL says the route is not in demand and not economically viable. 

It is blindingly obvious that the route appears not to be in demand - but this is down to the 603 itself.

The bus times are nonsensical, irregular, unreliable and infrequent.

They start too late in the morning to allow children to get to get to their activities on time and are too early in the afternoon, so the kids miss it going home.

How can there be demand when no one ever knows whether a bus will turn up at an expected time, or at all? 

TfL's suggested alternatives mean children will have to change to existing bus routes two to three times to travel either to or from school.

This is not safe, given some of the isolated bus stops where children would have to wait for a change-over bus.

Instead, parents drive children about to ensure they are safe, and it's convenient. The police agree it’s not safe for children to be isolated in the darker evenings. 

Linda Chung has been talking to residents about improvements needed to the 306 busLinda Chung has been talking to residents about improvements needed to the 306 bus (Image: Nathalie Raffray)

Hampstead ward residents including children, parents and carers suggest there should be a 603 every 15 minutes between 6.30am to 8.30am and from 3pm to 6pm. This would ensure that all schools and the whole route are covered.

The 15-minute intervals would also achieve regularity because users would know when a bus is due.

As a Hampstead ward councillor, I would be interested in increased frequency but only if single-decker electric buses like the 46 or C11 were used, otherwise there may be opposition from residents, particularly along Heath Street, to increased frequency.

There have been complaints about the existing 603 double-decker rumbling through the street mostly empty because of damage it can cause to buildings along Heath Street, many of which are listed, have no foundations, and fragile soil sub-structure that is prone to subsidence and flooding.

Increasing the frequency of the 603 bus would connect passengers to the high streets of Hampstead, Highgate, and Muswell Hill, reducing private car use and increasing footfall on the high streets.

So, please TfL, do the right thing and make the bus time more relevant to willing passengers.

  • Linda Chung is the Liberal Democrat councillor for Hampstead Town ward, Camden Council.