Community anger at plans to axe and re-route 'vital' buses
- Credit: Nathalie Raffray
A petition has been launched as residents react in anger at plans to axe or re-route buses serving communities in Camden.
At risk are the 24 bus from South End Green which would be replaced by the 88 bus, which would no longer serve Parliament Hill.
The 214 would run from Highgate Village to Pimlico but would no longer serve King's Cross or Angel to Moorgate.
The 31, which links Swiss Cottage with Camden Town, is set to be axed, as is the number 4, which runs from Archway to Blackfriars.
A petition to save the 24 bus has received more than a thousand signatures.
Diana Delbridge, who lives in Downshire Hill, Hampstead, said: "It seems crazy that TfL are even considering axing bus routes when we are being encouraged to use public transport.
"There are increasing numbers of elderly people too, who find it difficult to use the Underground because of the steps, and there are many disabled people who also find the bus services better and safer than the tube."
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Peter Wallace, of Lawn Road, said: "Reducing services will result in those buses that remain even more packed, something hardly sensible in these days of Covid. And whatever happened to the campaign for people to get out of their cars?"
Jane McWilliams, chair of the Brookfield Park Residents Association, slammed the loss of the number 4, which provides a direct route to Finsbury Park, St Paul's Cathedral and Blackfriars, "where many travel to work or Holloway Road where the majority do their weekly or daily shop".
She added: "I feel, as so many do, that consultations carried out are merely a box-ticking exercise.
"Never are they successful in changing the course of action that is already set in motion. Patronising platitudes in the form of these consultations is not what the public want or need.
"We need to be heard and considered when decisions are being made that directly impact us. We pay enough for these services.”
Maya de Souza, chair of the Dartmouth Park Neighbourhood Forum, said: “We’re extremely concerned to hear about the pressure on TFL to reduce costs and this inadequate consultation on cuts to important routes.
She said it would "discourage use of public transport and hurt vulnerable people including those with disabilities in particular”.
Cllr Anna Wright (Lab, Highgate) blamed decisions by Boris Johnson, when he was mayor of London, and then-chancellor George Osborne for TfL's funding problems. She said they made TfL "one of the only transport authorities in the western world not to receive an operating grant from central government".
She said: "Not long ago we were asked to accept the loss of the old C2 and its replacement with the 88.
"Now we learn that we are to lose the 88. However, the heart of the problem stems from the government’s disgraceful neglect of London’s public transport."
Geoff Hobbs, TfL’s director of public transport planning, said: "TfL’s reliance on passenger fares for the majority of its income means the effect of the pandemic on its finances has been devastating, requiring Government support to keep public transport in London operating.
"The government set a number of conditions before it would provide emergency funding to enable TfL to keep operating, including requiring us to produce a plan to set out how we would achieve significant financial savings. This plan included reducing the extent of our bus network.
“Buses are the backbone of our transport network and are critically important to reducing car use, congestion, road danger and pollution."
He said 15 areas will be looked at "in a holistic way" to "ensure each neighbourhood continues to have a bus link".
A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “We have repeatedly shown our commitment to supporting London's transport network throughout the pandemic, providing close to £5bn in emergency funding to Transport for London.
“We know Londoners will be disappointed to see popular routes cut, however as transport in London is devolved, it is for TfL and the mayor make decisions on service levels."