'Unacceptable': Highgate fears over TfL bus changes

The 271 bus will only run at night under TfL proposals

The 271 bus will only run at night under TfL proposals - Credit: Nigel Sutton

TfL’s plans to change bus routes around Highgate have drawn concern from neighbourhood groups and local politicians. 

Under considerations put to public consultation, the 143 service would be rerouted via Archway Road, rather than Highgate Village, and the 271 would only operate at night. 

The 263 would travel through Highgate Village instead of Archway Road. Overall, the frequency of buses going through the area would fall.

The proposed changes

The proposed changes - Credit: TfL

Highgate councillor Liz Morris called the 143 change “completely unacceptable”, and Catherine West MP said Londoners “must not pay” for rightly staying at home during the coronavirus pandemic. 

TfL says the move is a result of capacity exceeding demand, with services currently over-running compared to the number of passengers.  

The move is part of a series of cuts across the capital by the transport body, which is facing a financial crisis. It recently projected a funding gap of £1.9bn.  

Nearly £4bn in government bailouts has been given to TfL to keep it afloat throughout lockdown. Its current bailout ends on December 11. 

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan is hoping to secure another bailout

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan is hoping to secure another bailout - Credit: PA

What changes are being put forward? 

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The services affected are the 21, 143, 263 and 271. The main proposals include:  

  • Reroute the 143 via Archway Road 
  • Reroute the 263 via Highgate Village 
  • Close 271 service between Highgate Village and Finsbury Square 
  • Create N271 night bus, operating between North Finchley and Finsbury Square 
  • Remove bus stand in South Grove, Highgate Village  
  • Introduce new school route 620 to run between Archway Station and East Finchley Cemetery, via Bishop Douglass School 
  • Cut back route 21 from Newington Green to New North Road and extend to Nags Head so it operates between Holloway and Lewisham Shopping Centre 

What do people think of the changes? 

Cllr Morris (Lib Dem, Highgate) said: “To lose the 143 service between Archway up to Highgate Village, which is already very poorly served by public transport, is completely unacceptable.   

“Back in 2017 we lost the 210 bus stop at Archway Station up to the village due to the redesigned gyratory at Archway. 

Highgate councillor Liz Morris

Highgate councillor Liz Morris - Credit: Cllr Liz Morris

“These new proposals will now leave us with just one service from Archway Station to the village. Also cutting the 271 bus line completely means losing a fast and efficient route to the City from the village.   

“TfL seems to be intent on making bus services to and from the village worse and worse.” 

The Highgate Society backed the removal of the South Grove bus stand, which it said would create “exciting possibilities” for the space. 

However the group expressed concern over the reduction in the frequency of buses, particularly from Archway to Highgate Village. 

Ms West, MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, said: “The 271 is a crucial route into central London and back up to Highgate Village and serves an elderly population, many of whom have given up their cars.  

“It's so important to keep people on buses not promoting more car ownership in London.”

Catherine West, MP for Hornsey and Wood Green

Catherine West, MP for Hornsey and Wood Green - Credit: Chris McAndrew

Ms West recently wrote to the transport secretary Grant Shapps, urging another bailout of TfL. She called it “completely unfair for Londoners to now pay the price for following government advice to stay at home”. 

“Any decline in bus service will be particularly devastating for my constituency, where many people particularly older, disabled people and those on the lowest incomes use buses to get to work, school and shops,” the MP added.

Geoff Hobbs, TfL’s director of public transport planning, said: “We are always reviewing the bus network to ensure we meet the evolving needs of our customers whilst making the best use of public money.   

“In our proposals we have taken care to ensure we would provide the right levels of service to match demand and maintain key bus links in the Highgate and Archway areas.   

“The proposed school route would benefit many students and the N271 would provide a safe, low-cost link between Highgate Village and North Finchley at night.   

“We’re encouraging people to get in touch and share their views to help shape our proposals.” 

The TfL consultation ends on January 9, 2022. Residents can have their say at https://haveyoursay.tfl.gov.uk/routes-21-143-263-271