UK News: London buses: 'Massive' changes to city's bus routes slammed as 'unacceptable'

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Opposition to proposed changes to the Transport for London (TfL) bus network is continuing to mobilise. This morning (October 5), around 80 politicians, community campaigners and bus passengers joined staff from the Unite union and bus campaigners on a demonstration through the streets of Peckham.

Their march was along the current route of the number 12, a route which has linked Central and South London for 170 years, maintaining its current Oxford Circus-Dulwich route since London Transport came into existence in the 1930s. The route will disappear in TfL's plans, part-replaced by an extension of route 148, one of London's least reliable services.

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The 12 is one of 16 daytime bus routes which will be removed from the network if TfL goes ahead with plans it put out to public consultation in the summer. The now closed consultation was extended due to a high volume of responses, some of which attracted the attention of the Department for Transport (DfT) which told TfL to avoid cutting bus routes as much as possible but to continue making savings of around £500 million.

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Helen Hayes MP, Marina Ahmad AM and community campaigners joined the Unite union who led the demonstration © Callum Marius Helen Hayes MP, Marina Ahmad AM and community campaigners joined the Unite union who led the demonstration

TfL bosses say the changes would remove around four per cent of London's buses overall, although parts of Outer London which have growth potential could gain buses, with Inner London losing buses on routes which are part-duplicated - such as the 12.

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Marina Ahmad, the Labour London Assembly member for Lambeth and Southwark, said it was "unacceptable" that a quarter of all the cuts set to take place are in, or will affect, routes through Southwark, with a disproportionate impact on those needing to get to local hospitals. She explained: "We know that in this particular area, we know that there are very few alternatives and for 25 per cent of the cuts to fall in my constituency is completely unacceptable. I came here today on the number 12 bus which is well-established and popular, and overcrowding already happens. Can you imagine what would happen with those buses removed?"

Also in attendance was Dulwich and West Norwood MP Helen Hayes and representatives from Disabled People Against Cuts, the latter of which described South London as "the forgotten area of London" given the bus cuts envisaged there. John Murphy, regional bus officer for the Unite union addressed the crowd of people at Camberwell Green before the march took place: "London Buses are close to each and every one of our hearts and we've depended on them at some of the most critical times London has seen - 7/7, Covid, London Bridge, Snowstorms - it was bus drivers who helped evacuate people and kept the city moving. I thank every single one of you [here] for not turning your back on them when they're most in need."

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TfL bus route 12 © Callum Marius TfL bus route 12

The reduction in bus services could lead to some bus garages having less work, although TfL is evaluating the workloads to ensure bus drivers can keep jobs as much as possible. MyLondon has previously spoken to users of bus routes, including the 12, who have described the changes as "wrong". An online petition to save route 12 has garnered over 7250 signatures so far.

TfL is expected to publish results on its consultation by the end of the year, although changes may not take place so soon. In recent years TfL has gone ahead with its proposed bus changes even if there is substantial opposition, such as on route 384 in Barnet. MyLondon has contacted TfL for comment.

If you have a transport-related story you think MyLondon should be covering, email [email protected]

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