Bus plan will be a double-decker disaster for us’

DOUBLE-decker buses could soon be roaring into Highgate along a route that includes cycle lanes and a tight turn outside a primary school

Tan Parsons

DOUBLE-decker buses could soon be roaring into Highgate along a route that includes cycle lanes and a tight turn outside a primary school.

Transport for London is considering upgrading the single-decker 214 bus, which runs up Highgate West Hill and makes a sharp turn outside St Michael's Primary School in North Road.

Residents are calling for the plans to be abandoned over safety fears and say a double-decker bus has no place in the village.

"There will be extra noise and vibrations - especially where there are speed bumps already," said Roger Freeman, chairman of the Highgate West Hill Residents' Association.

"It is one of the steepest hills in London and it's bad enough listening to the single-deckers strain to get up it. A lot of houses in this street are right next to the road. We are worried these plans will just be pushed through without a proper consultation by TfL."

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The move follows other controversial bus routes set up by TfL, including the 393 which runs along Leighton Road in Kentish Town and the 210 - another double-decker - which runs up Highgate Hill.

Highgate West Hill, which is a designated London Cycle Network route, has a large number of overhanging trees that would have to be pruned to make way for the bigger buses.

"I don't know where this demand is coming from. I really can't understand who is coming back to Highgate from central London in the middle of the night," said Mr Freeman.

The Highgate Society is opposing the introduction of the double-deckers along the route.

Chairman Gordon Forbes said: "The 214 turns right outside St Michael's Primary School and it is already quite a tight squeeze. It could be even worse with a double-decker and we don't think that is sensible outside a primary school."

The society unsuccessfully opposed TfL's plans to change the 210 bus into a double-decker, and now they fear the same could happen to the 214.

"TfL didn't consult the public about the 210 at all - even though they said they did," he said.

"The same pattern is taking place now - they just do what they want. The population in Highgate is older than in many other parts of London and there are fewer accessible seats for elderly people on double-decker buses. The environmental damage that would be done to the area would be considerable and it would be entirely out of keeping with the character of Highgate."

A Transport for London spokeswoman said the plans have been drawn up in response to night-time capacity issues on the route between Old Street and Camden Town.

"To avoid people being left behind we are currently looking into solutions to this that include enhancing the frequency and the possibility of introducing double-deckers on all or part of the route," she added.

"When we have any firm proposals London Buses will liaise and consult with local stakeholders as is standard practice."