Save the 48! Hackney Council urges TfL to U-turn on ‘unacceptable’ plan to slash bus services across borough

A file image of the 48 bus in Shoreditch High Street. Picture: Aubrey Morandarte (Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.

A file image of the 48 bus in Shoreditch High Street. Picture: Aubrey Morandarte (Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0) - Credit: Archant

Hackney Council has urged Transport for London to scrap a series of “unacceptable” cuts to bus services that would see the 48 shelved completely and several others scaled back.

In a statement this afternoon, deputy mayor and transport chief Cllr Feryal Demirci said the changes – leaked last night – would hit some of Hackney’s worst off people.

“One in four Hackney residents rely on buses as their main form of transport,” she said, “and they will rightly be angry to see these proposals.

“We have already seen major cuts to buses over the last year, and these latest changes will mean even more overcrowding, even longer waiting times, and leave many having no direct route into the City or London Bridge.”

She added: “The worst affected will be the residents living in some of Hackney’s most-deprived and least connected neighbourhoods, such as those in the Clapton Park and Lea Bridge areas who will suffer from a complete loss of the 48 route and major reductions in frequency of the 242.

“With the proposals leaking before the formal consultation is published, we hope that TfL will listen to us and the local community to scrap these unacceptable changes now.

“If not we will work with our residents to put together a strong case to ensure Hackney maintains the strong bus service that is vital to so many people living here.”

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As well as the loss of the 48, the proposals – which are yet to be put out to public consultation – would see the 67 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.

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

The 55 could be extended, though not made more frequent, to Walthamstow from Leyton to make up for the lost link from the 48.

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

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.

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.”

Geoff Hobbs, director of public transport service planning at TfL, told us this morning: “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.”

Green London Assembly Member Caroline Russell struck a more cautious tone than Hackney, but said she too was concerned about the loss of connections.

She said: “TfL has been talking about reorganising bus routes for a while to tackle congestion in the centre by reducing routes there and reallocating capacity to outer London bus deserts to improve those services.

“But it’s really shocking to hear these plans that reduce bus mileage and service frequency on inner London routes without any new routes in outer London to compensate.”

The assembly scrutinises the work of the mayor, who ultimately oversees TfL.

Ms Russell added: “Rising congestion is reducing bus reliability and passenger numbers are falling.

“TfL is losing government subsidy and so trying to balance the books is fair enough. It also makes sense to take out some central buses to allow others to run more smoothly.

“But the loss of connections is very worrying and it remains to be seen if the hopper fare flexibility really helps passengers. If you are travelling with shopping or children you may prefer a longer slower trip rather than the hassle of swapping buses.”