Commuters face longer bus journeys and transfer times as Mare Street becomes pedestrianised

A mock-up of what the Narrow Way/ Mare Street after pedestrianisation. The council claims it will br

A mock-up of what the Narrow Way/ Mare Street after pedestrianisation. The council claims it will breathe life into the shops on Mare Street. Picture: Studio Weave, Architects - Credit: Archant

Bus commuters could face at least 10 additional minutes on their journey times when one of Hackney’s busiest roads is pedestrianised.

The north end of Mare Street, which is popularly known as the Narrow Way, will be closed to vehicles from Saturday until January 2014 in a trial scheme by Hackney Council.

Although Transport for London consulted on the changes to bus routes on its website in April, many residents say the first they knew of the plan was when signs went up about the changes this week.

Hackney Council insisted that the fortchoming six-month “trial” was effectively the consultation period and will determine the scheme’s future.

The council claims the plans – which will affect 15 bus routes – will “boost Hackney Central and breathe new life into its high street”. It plans to turn the road into a pedestrianised public space to create “a more welcoming” atmosphere – and has a cultural progamme programme lined up for the area.

But commuters are unhappy about the lack of notice and the lengthened journeys they will now face.

Most buses will be re-routed through Amhurst Road and Dalston Lane – leading to increased journey times and commuters having to walk between different bus stops to catch their connections.

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Jade Hill, who commutes from Islington to Hackney, said: “It’s a nightmare for bus commuters. The movement of the bus stop will mean an additional 10 minutes to my journey every day. It also potentially means I’ll have to wait a further eight minutes in transfer times. That bus stop is in my opinion one of the best in London. The move will not help the shops and no one will see them.”

She also expressed dismay about not being consulted about the plans and said she only learned about the move on Monday after signs went up.

Andy Washington said: “It will add 10 minutes to all my bus journeys and won’t encourage me to shop there anymore.”

But resident Rafal Cymbalista, of Pembury Estate in Pembury Road, welcomed the plans. He said: At the moment I am afraid to walk there with my four-year-old son because of the narrow footpaths and buses which are not all hybrids.”

Local traders were also concerned. James Davies, assistant manager of C&C Decor on Mare Street, said: “We rely on passing trade from people getting on and off the buses. With that not happening we are quite worried we are not going to be that busy.”

A number of businesses, including those in Amhurst Road, said they knew nothing about the plans – and the fact the bus stops to accommodate the new bus routes would be moved outside their shops – until work started outside their shops on May 31.

But Hackney Council insisted it leafleted and visited businesses in the immediate area, and publicised the scheme through its own newspaper Hackney Today – but it did fail to announce the plans to the local press.

A spokesman said: “Leaflets were distributed to businesses in affected triangle of Amhurst Road, Narrow Way, Dalston Lane; also in Hackney Town Hall; Hackney Service Centre; Hackney Central Library. TfL were responsible were responsible for highlighting changes in the affected bus stops.

“Letters were sent to businesses and residences in wider area explaining changes.

“Volunteers will be available this Saturday, Sunday, Monday in affected areas to explain changes.”

TfL said more than 86,000 Oyster card users were emailed in the consultation and that there were 747 responses, the majority of which were positive.

Mayor of Hackney, Jules Pipe, said in a statement: “The proposed changes will help to make this valuable space a safer and more pleasant place where the community and visitors can shop, meet and spend time in the heart of the borough.”

If you have any feedback on the changes, email the council at