48 could be cut altogether under plans to reduce or remove dozens of bus routes across London

The 48, pictured in Lower Clapton, could be completely shelved under the plans. Picture: Sludge G/Fl

The 48, pictured in Lower Clapton, could be completely shelved under the plans. Picture: Sludge G/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0 - Credit: Archant

The 48 could be cancelled and a string of other Hackney and Islington bus routes slashed in length and frequency under radical secret plans.

The 48 bus in Mare Street this week. Picture: Polly Hancock

The 48 bus in Mare Street this week. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

It appears to break a promise TfL made to Hackney Council just eight weeks ago that the route from Walthamstow to London Bridge would be safe in the wake of the controversial shortening of the 277.

Transport bosses are planning a major cutback in bus numbers that could affect at least 10 routes across the two boroughs.

The 48, earmarked for total removal, is the biggest casualty in the proposals first revealed by south London blog 853 yesterday.

It sparked fury from mayor of Hackney Phil Glanville, who tweeted this afternoon: “Only found out about full terrible details of these @TfL bus cuts earlier in the week. [Transport chief Cllr Feryal Dermirci] & I totally oppose them. Changes to 67, 149 & 242 are bad enough, but losing 48 is unacceptable. The worst affected will be left with no direct route to London Bridge or the City.”

The 48 bus in Mare Street this week. Picture: Polly Hancock

The 48 bus in Mare Street this week. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

A presentation given to TfL staff suggests the 55 route would be extended from Leyton to Walthamstow to cover the lost part of the route, but there is no indication the frequency of that bus would be increased.

Meanwhile, Kingsland Road is also hit hard by the shake-up, with the 67 set to be cut between Dalston and Aldgate; the 149 made less frequent; and the 242 no longer serving St Paul’s but instead going from Shoreditch to Aldgate.

And the 26 could be increased in frequency and the 76 re-routed from Bank to London Wall.

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The routes of the 4 and the 19, both of which serve the north of Islington, would be altered in central London.

The 48 in Mare Street. Picture: Ken Mears

The 48 in Mare Street. Picture: Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

Elsewhere, the 388, coming from Stratford, would terminate at Finsbury Circus instead of crossing the river to Elephant and Castle.

The 134, which runs up and down the A1 between Warren Street and North Finchley, would be cut back to Tottenham Court Road during the night.

The 341 could be re-routed to Farringdon Street instead of Gray’s Inn Road.

And the reach of the 476 could recede from Euston to King’s Cross, with the service also becoming less frequent.

In the leaked presentation, TfL says it is trying to “remove excess capacity” and “over-bussing” by “simplifying” routes. It claims passenger journey times will be on average 1 per cent longer.

Fewer people are using buses, it adds, with demand falling by “8 to 12 per cent in central London” over three years.

The opening of the Elizabeth line, connecting outer east London to Heathrow, is expected to further reduce people’s need for buses, although no Crossrail stations are due to open in Hackney or Islington except at Farringdon, right on the southern border of the latter.

TfL says councils are first being asked for their thoughts on the plans, after which they – along with any amendments – will be put out to public consultation.

Geoff Hobbs, who is director of public transport service planning at TfL, said: “As set out in the mayor’s transport strategy, we’re currently looking at how we can adjust and reorganise the bus network to ensure it reflects a rapidly changing London, including planning for year-on-year increases in bus kilometres in outer London.

“We need to modernise and simplify the network and ensure that bus capacity is in the right places at the right times.

“We’re currently working closely with London’s boroughs on a potential set of proposals and they are helping shape our plans. These changes will also be subject to full public consultation before they’re put in place so we can hear from customers.”

It comes just weeks after a cut to the 277 route caught Hackney Council on the hop. Bosses there are understood to have been unaware of TfL’s plans to roll back the service to terminate at Dalston Junction instead of Highbury and Islington.

TfL actually told the Gazette at the time there were no plans to cut the 48, as had been rumoured.

Campaigner Pat Turnbull said today: “The bus stops outside Dalston Junction on both sides of the road are a terrible place to change buses.

“The pavements are narrow, there are no shelters or seats, and there is no electronic sign to say when the next bus is coming.”

A TfL spokesman said in response to rumours at the end of June that there were “no immediate changes planned” to the 48.

Hackney’s transport chief Cllr Feryal Demirci told us at the time: “The possibility of the 48 being removed was raised at a meeting between TfL and council officers, which was extremely alarming.

“If TfL have now confirmed that they no longer plan on removing or cutting this route, that’s good news. But we would like TfL to reassure our residents that there are no plans to cut or change any other bus routes in Hackney.”

The transport authority could not immediately confirm how much money would be saved by the moves. TfL’s government funding, which had totalled hundreds of million pounds a year, has been completely removed from 2018, meaning the network must be entirely self-sufficient.

But a spokesman said the idea was not to save funds but to increase capacity for services in outer London and remove unnecessary vehicles from the roads.

What do you think? E-mail gazette.letters@archant.co.uk.