Saturday, 25 August 2018

The Demise Of Central London

Last week was pretty exciting for the bus enthusiast community, as Transport for London revealed some rather drastic proposals for re-shaping the network in Central London, but also releasing the long-awaited results for the Elizabeth Line and Oxford Street consultations. Due to ongoing congestion and appallingly slow journey times in zone 1, bus usage has decreased dramatically in this area and ultimately TFL aim to reduce the number of "over-bussed" corridors, where more buses per hour are being provided than what is deemed adequate. Firstly, we will look at the (smaller) Oxford Street results, as they can be viewed as almost a foundation for the other changes. Apart from the curtailment of route 25, the Elizabeth Line consultation has no relevance to Central London, so those proposals won't be analysed so heavily.

The 7 is one of the few routes that TfL wish to remain on Oxford Street.
Interestingly, the outcome of the consultation has changed slightly from what was initially planned, as the complete pedestrianisation of Oxford Street has been called off. However, TfL are still committing to heavily reducing the number of buses running along the Western end of this congested road, excluding the section from Selfridges to Marble Arch. In summary, these changes will be taking place:

Routes 94 and 113 will curtail to Marble Arch.
Route 159 will curtail to Oxford Circus.
Routes 10/23 will be merged (using the latter number), running as a Westbourne Park-Paddington-Marble Arch-Knightsbridge-Hammersmith route.
Routes 7, 98, 139 and 390 will continue to operate along Oxford Street.

The iconic number 23 will only scrape the edge of Central London under the new proposals.
 I appreciate that the number of buses along Oxford Street does need to be reduced and having four or five routes traversing the Western arm seems entirely appropriate. I question, however, the services which TfL have decided to remain and certainly disapprove of their lazy bodge job regarding the 10 and 23. After some thinking, I can agree with the changes to the 113 and 159 and accept that the 98, 139 and to an extent the 390 (not my preferred choice) provide some valuable links along Oxford Street. However, what TfL have failed to acknowledge is which journeys passengers are actually making - effectively, which routes are most valued by people who actually use the buses. It seems to me that they have simply looked at a map and chosen the four routes which provide the most links, although even that has some awful gaps missing. There is no denying that the 94 follows the Central Line for a considerable part of its journey after Oxford Street, but it is also apparent that this service is one of the most crowded along this stretch - cutting it to Marble Arch will lose the route most of its custom. The 10/23 proposal is even more absurd ; these two routes are even more valuable and provide cross-London links which are extremely popular with shoppers. What's worse is the new service is ridiculously indirect and only provides a handful of genuinely useful round-the-corner links - TfL blatantly haven't analysed passenger flows and have simply stuck the two ends of the 10 and 23 - which either serve territory alone or provide a unique route (Kensington to Marble Arch, for example) - together. I can assure you though that most people using the 23 from Ladbroke Grove travel beyond Marble Arch, likewise with the 10 from Hammersmith. This route is probably the most popular on Oxford Street at the moment. You can also dismiss the cover-up that a Paddington to Knightsbridge link will be created, when the 36 stops around the corner, whilst sending the 23 this way removes a service from Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square and Aldwych - formerly St Paul's too. I would also happily wave goodbye to the 7 along Oxford Street as lots of the route is duplicated by the 23 anyway - it's probably one of the quietest routes there at the moment.

This change also renders some LTs surplus as the new route will be incorporated into the 23 contract.
After all the criticism, you may wonder if a better solution is available. I'm sure this post is not the best place to find one, seeing as I've had to resort to retaining five routes along Oxford Street instead of the magic number four and that I've only spent a couple of minutes on the matter. Nevertheless, here goes nothing:

  • Go ahead with the changes to routes 113 and 159. Some inconvenience will be caused, but these two services aren't particularly well used along this stretch compared to others.
  • Keep, as planned, routes 98 and 139 running along Oxford Street. These two provide links to different corridors in North-West London, as well as offering a through service through Central London to Holborn and Waterloo respectively. Despite the traffic, they still have some of the strongest commuter flows during rush hour. 
  • Restructure route 23 to run from Paddington to Liverpool Street (its former terminus), which was the busiest part of the route. It provides links across the whole of Central London and was always rammed before the curtailment. Having only the 139 through to Aldwych and beyond is not appropriate. The Western part of the route can be replaced by sending the 452 to Westbourne Park (no one uses it to Kensal Rise) and re-routing either the 7 or 70 via Colville Road. If TfL are really concerned about overbussing the Aldwych-Fleet Street-Liverpool Street corridor, how about sending the 11 via Victoria Embankment? Its ridiculous that road doesn't have a bus service and given it passes tourist attractions would generate significant usage.
  • Keep route 10 exactly how it is, running from Hammersmith to King's Cross. I favour this as a South West to North East route because it provides links to Knightsbridge, Kensington, British Museum, Euston and King's Cross, whereas the 390 only manages the last two plus a couple of extra bites at Victoria and Goodge Street, which really aren't the end of the world as I plan to keep the route in the vicinity anyway. From my observations, the 10 is much busier than the 390.
  • Keep route 94 along Oxford Street, although maybe terminate at Oxford Circus if three bus routes to Piccadilly Circus really is too much for TfL. The 94 is well used along Regent Street, but let us remember there is not an infinite supply of money here.
  • Re-route the 390 entirely between Warren Street and Victoria ; to run via the 88 and Great Portland Street until Oxford Circus, then through Mayfair to Hyde Park Corner. This ensures that the extremely fast and useful link (which TFL plan to withdraw) from Warren Street to Oxford Circus is retained - the 390 takes ages - and that the quick route from Oxford Circus to Victoria via Mayfair is also reinstated. This was really popular and is much faster than the route via Park Lane, which the 390 uses currently. These proposals make the 390 a rather fast method of crossing Central London, whilst also keeping it roughly within the West End. The only loss here is some of Oxford Street loses its bus to Victoria, but with Selfridges, Oxford Circus and Tottenham Court Road all being fairly close to each other and having services available, it is a sacrifice I'm willing to make. There is also the matter of the Sloane Square to Oxford Circus link - you either overbus Mayfair slightly and keep the number 22 (maybe just as far as Conduit Street), or send it back to Piccadilly and accept that the link is lost.
  • Divert the 7 at Marble Arch to follow the 36 as far as Camberwell Green, perhaps. You can then reduce the frequency of the 36, which is very excessive at the Queen's Park end, but inadequate on the Central section between Marble Arch and Peckham. From Vauxhall onwards, you do at least have the 436 to compensate.  
And relax. I understand that was a lot to take in and these proposals are far from perfect, but I should hope that they are slightly better than what TfL will introduce. You are all welcome to send your comments regarding them too, especially with any improvements to what I've suggested as I'd love to know what could be made better. From now, however, it's time for the even more horrifying changes - and guess what, I'm putting forward some wild solutions for those too.

This may be the last stop for the 134 under the new proposals.

Shock was conveyed by many bus enthusiasts on the afternoon of Wednesday 15th August 2018, where an article on the popular 853 London blog presented leaked confirmations of the plans TfL wish to consult on regarding the future of the Central London bus network. That is, hacking it to pieces. The details are being finalised at the moment, but a formal consultation should be expected next month. In the mean time, we can feel ashamed that effectively all the funding for London buses has been cut and as a result people who actually rely on them end up with shoddy services. It also seems apparent that whilst there is a necessity to reduce the number of buses on certain corridors, the attempts to do this have been incredibly lazy, with a number of wasteful duplications which could've been easily avoided, whilst other areas are violated completely.

Could Bloomsbury receive its fourth bus route in less than five years?
The first specified corridor which needs "thinning out" is between Warren Street and Tottenham Court Road. With the 10 no longer serving Bloomsbury due to the merge mentioned in the Oxford Street proposals, yet another bus route has to be re-routed to serve the British Museum and Russell Square (we've had the 7, 98 and 10 in recent years). Conveniently, the 14 terminates at nearby Warren Street but also uses Tottenham Court Road, which TfL claims to be overbussed, so that will be sent to Russell Square instead. With the Warren Street stand being vacant, why not curtail a route from the North so that it is cut off from the West End entirely? The 134 will now terminate at Warren Street, which means two routes are lost from this corridor.

Whilst these are hardly drastic proposals, they're pretty awful for providing decent links. Curtailing the 134 will be detrimental for its usage - a large number of people from the Highgate, Archway and Muswell Hill value this service as a route into Central London, staying on until Tottenham Court Road. Undoubtedly, with this new change, they will switch to the Northern Line. Whilst the 14 re-routing may seem an efficient use of stand space (it was never that busy to Warren Street), it does no good for the British Museum whatsoever. The previous routes at least provided useful links to Oxford Street, Marble Arch and Knightsbridge - trips that are not possible by tube - whereas the 14 will simply follow the Piccadilly Line all the way until South Kensington, just at considerably slower speeds. How will that be useful to anyone? Essentially, people will be put off the 134 as the route will be damaged and passengers wishing to access Bloomsbury will be put off bus travel as the route doesn't go anywhere useful. A sterling job.

I suppose you want to know whether I can "do better" than the TfL proposals. If you cast your mind back to my Oxford Street suggestions, there might be a recollection of sending the 390 via Great Portland Street, between Oxford Circus and Warren Street, which not only maintains links there and provides a faster journey time, but conveniently removes a bus from Tottenham Court Road, whilst the core links to the West End and King's Cross are maintained by the 73. Regarding the disposal of a second route, I question whether this is mandatory, although my solution would be to curtail half a route instead. This means introducing short trips on the 29, so every other bus from Wood Green would curtail at Warren Street, rather than all buses continuing all the way to Trafalgar Square. This may be slightly unpopular, but no links are lost at all and the spread of passengers heading Northbound are actually distributed more evenly, with people from Camden Town intending to commute via the 29 maybe finding some spare seats on the way home. It's just a thought, I'm sure you have better ideas than the comments section, but I'm sure we can all agree that removing the 14 and certainly the 134 is not a good idea.

The 11 might not make it past zone 1 for much longer...
The next specified corridor spans from King's Road to Piccadilly and Shaftesbury Avenue, where admittedly traffic congestion is diabolical throughout the day. Instead of delving straight into analysis like last time, however, simply listing the proposed changes is probably wiser as they are extremely long-winded and at times, nonsensical.

Route 9 will be sent away from Pall Mall and instead use Piccadilly, for faster journeys.
Route 11 will be curtailed from Fulham Broadway to Victoria.
Route 19 will be curtailed from Battersea Bridge to Holborn.
Route 22 will be sent away from Oxford Circus, back to its former terminus at Piccadilly Circus.
Route 311 will be introduced, with key destinations being Fulham Broadway-Sloane Square-Victoria-Oxford Circus.

TfL going back on themselves...
 I knew these plans would be absurd when I read the number 9 re-routing, which sends it back to its former course via Piccadilly Circus. For starters, this leaves Pall Mall without a bus service, which is pretty ridiculous. Secondly, it does not speed up journey times at all - the 9 was actually sent away from Piccadilly a few years ago as the route took too long. In addition, this will just over-bus the corridor even more, having this route follow the 6 all the way to Aldwych rather than via a unique path is a complete waste of resources.

In regards to the 11, although this quite a drastic measure, its curtailment to Victoria under the current route is somewhat acceptable, although it does highlight the concerning issue of congestion if a journey less than five miles can be timetabled to take 60 minutes to complete. It does break quite a lot of links, although TfL can now scream "hopper fare" as the 311 service will exist. The 19 change, however, effectively renders the route useless. Its primary purpose at the moment is to act as a cross-city service and is one of the last remaining examples in London. Yes, it does face awful road conditions, but people do still use it from South-West to North-East London. Curtailing it to Holborn, of all places, will reduce ridership significantly and make the route a slight waste, duplicating the 4 and 38 for its entirety. There will be some demand with commuters from Highbury Barn using it to get to Clerkenwell, but much less than before. As for the 311, given what's happened to the other services the route makes a lot of sense, but I question whether a service like this is needed at all.

A route to be almost halved by these proposals.
Predictably, my views are that this scheme does not work. With Piccadilly, keeping the 9 at Pall Mall will decrease the number of buses per hour for starters. Something else I would recommend is quite simple but reduces the number of buses per hour on both Piccadilly and Shaftesbury Avenue whilst not breaking many links. That is, to cut the frequency of the 38, which I find extremely excessive at the moment. It pains me to see the route running every three minutes when almost every bus is carting around fresh air, whilst other routes which are genuinely busy are facing the chop. I would get rid of the alternate short trips to Hackney Central, apart from maybe a couple in rush hour, just running an every 7-8 minute through route to Clapton Pond. This means that the 19 can remain, but perhaps with a curtailment to Sloane Square, as demand from King's Road to North London does seem minimal and a waste of resources - I haven't seen a busy number 19 there for ages.

For the 22, I feel there are two options. The route can either remain at Oxford Circus to keep the link from there to Sloane Square and King's Road (although with my proposal to send the 390 through Mayfair, would mean duplication), or send the route back to its old terminus at Piccadilly Circus, which offers more links that the 19 initially provided on King's Road. Personally, I favour the latter.

I would also retain the 11 through to Fulham Broadway. The links it provides from Chelsea are still useful and creating a new route to replace some of them is just a faff. For mitigating delays, I mentioned before re-routing the service via Victoria Embankment. True, this road is also congested, but is a much more direct route than the current agenda of Whitehall then Strand, which are also gridlocked in rush hour. This means that, in my eyes, there isn't much to change with the King's Road corridor. There will be some inconvenience with curtailing the 19, but the corridor is over-bussed after all and my option doesn't annihilate the route from the entire area at least. Keeping the 11 doesn't actually increase the number of buses per hour at all, as there is now arguably no need for a 311 service.

Not this again, surely?
These next changes attempt to reduce bus flows along Whitehall. The first proposal, which involves curtailing the 3 to Whitehall Horse Guards, is a bit random as it only saves one stop and I suspect is purely because the 22 will need its old stand back at Piccadilly Circus (which the 3 doesn't actually go to in service anyway). Confusing, isn't it. This also means the 53 will be curtailing at Lambeth North, again. Don't TfL realise that this simply doesn't work? There are clearly a number of influential people along the route as there have been two other occasions where the 53 was proposed to be curtailed to County Hall and there was such an uproar that even the stubbornness TfL usually produce failed. My prediction is that the route will end up staying at Whitehall and TfL are wasting their time. People from South-East London clearly like their link to the edge of the West End, and Whitehall is hardly the most congested road out there. I hate to mention Victoria Embankment again, but this will help...

The end looms ahead...
Another long-winded set of plans accompany an attempt to reduce bus flows along Fleet Street, which has to be one of the worst roads out there for rush hour traffic. Be warned, some of these proposals are very vague.

Route 4 will be withdrawn from Waterloo & Ludgate Circus and sent away at St Paul's to Blackfriars.
Route 76 will be removed from Bank and use London Wall / New Change instead to LoR.
Route 172 will be curtailed to Aldwych, no longer serving Clerkenwell Green.
Route 341 will be re-routed from Grays Inn Road to Farringdon Street (I don't get what this means either), with a slight terminal change at Waterloo too, using the previous route 4 stand.
Route 15H will only operate on summer weekends and bank holidays.

The 4 will be sent from a sprawling bus hub to pretty much a dead end.
I've been left quite baffled by some of these plans in all honesty. The change to the 4's routeing is dreadful and makes the bus South of Angel useless - using the Blackfriars stand just to remove a route from Fleet Street is lazy and doesn't actually take into account any passenger flows. The 4 is a lifeline for the densely populated Barbican area and is the only route offering a decent link South of the St Paul's area. It's pretty well used too. Re-routing the 76 is a pathetic excuse of retaining links - it'll still go nowhere near the residential parts of the 4 in Barbican which is where people actually use the service. The only good news is journey times will speed up slightly as getting through Bank Junction still takes ages sometimes.

The 172 cut back is quite sensible in all honesty - sending it to Clerkenwell Green is evidently a waste of resources as I still haven't seen a bus on that part of the route with more than three people on board. As always though, there has to be a cause for concern, with this time it being the 341 re-routing via Farringdon Street. I really don't understand the obsession with providing a round-the-corner link here when no one uses it, whilst roads like Fetter Lane will now lose their bus service entirely, even though in rush hour there is usually a good crowd of passengers travelling to and from here. Secondly, this might also result in the loss of a direct service from Chancery Lane to Roseberry Avenue, which is pretty inconvenient. These new changes will make the 341 largely unpopular to Waterloo, as journey times will be significantly longer, whilst the problem of buses carrying fresh air along Fleet Street will still be apparent. An excuse to cut back the route further in the future, perhaps? Regarding the 15H, as much as this change saddens me (I always find using this service a novelty and a great laugh), the buses don't seem to be very busy apart from at weekends. Therefore, I do actually accept this cut back, as long as it doesn't eventually lead to the service being withdrawn altogether.

Memories of when Abellio operated the route.
If I were in charge of reducing buses on the Fleet Street corridor, the route changes would be very different to what TfL have suggested. For starters, the 23 would still remain as a Paddington-Liverpool Street route, taking the place of the 11 which would use Victoria Embankment. I would go ahead with the curtailment of the 172 and slight hacking back of the 15H. With the 4, my plans would be rather ambitious, involving a complete re-routing between Barbican Station and Aldwych. Instead of the long-winded route via St Paul's and Ludgate Circus, I'd be willing to introduce a bus service to the roads adjacent to Smithfield Market (Charterhouse Street & Carthusian Street towards Barbican ; Long Lane, West Smithfield, East Poultry Ave, Charterhouse Street towards Waterloo), and then the route would cross Holborn Circus, use Fetter Lane and then down to the current terminus, via Aldwych. This would maintain the much valued link from Barbican to Waterloo and Covent Garden, keep Fetter Lane with a bus route, serve the popular tourist destination of Smithfield Market and speed up long-distance journey times significantly, whilst also removing a bus from Fleet Street. I have no idea whether this would work practically, it's just a thought. I would go ahead with re-routing the 76 as it maintains links from St Paul's to Waterloo. The 341 could then be re-routed at Chancery Lane, via High Holborn and Kingsway, to serve Waterloo, which would give this area a link South of the Thames at weekends too. If overbussing Kingsway is a concern, I would curtail the 188 to Waterloo (the route is very long at the moment and not particularly well used North of the river) and send the 171 to the Covent Garden stand, which will certainly have room to accommodate another route given the RV1 has such a poor frequency now. This would leave the 15, 23, 26 and 76 serving the full length of Fleet Street, which is hopefully a better mix of routes than what TfL want to introduce.

The 59 was extended to King's Cross purely for the sake of providing a link to Waterloo.
 These next two changes are a perfect example of being lazy and also over scrupulous, in the sense that a "corridor" which barely lasts two stops is apparently a cause for concern. In order to reduce bus flows on a minor section of Euston Road, the 59 and 476 will be curtailed to Euston and King's Cross respectively, with the routes simply swapping their termini. Whilst the 476 change isn't much of a big deal, as the largely duplicating 73 can pick up the crowd for Euston, the 59 change is awful and simply reverts the active effort made to extend the service to King's Cross many years ago, in order to provide a bus service from there to Waterloo. Currently, apart from the 59, there is no method of directly travelling between these two major rail terminals and not having this accessible friendly option will be a massive oversight and inconvenience to the many people who use the 59 right to the end of the route. If I were in charge here, the 59 would remain exactly how it is, whilst with the 476 pulling something drastic might work effectively. Even though merging this route with the 73 sounds extreme, something clearly isn't working with the corridor from Stoke Newington to King's Cross. Ever since the 73 was curtailed to Oxford Circus, demand has dropped sharply and what was a really busy route now struggles to produce any buses carrying healthy loads, bar maybe at rush hour. This also means the necessity for a relief route, which is essentially the job of the 476, whilst also providing useful links to Northumberland Park, can be questioned. The 73 is only around 20 minutes longer than the 476 now anyway, so I think a through service from Oxford Circus to Northumberland Park wouldn't be particularly unreliable, but would also provide new opportunities for residents of Tottenham to access the West End. An every six minute service during the day would appear adequate, with perhaps a few extra short trips from Stoke Newington in rush hour if such demand still exists. This also removes a fair few buses per hour from this "corridor", even though I'm still not convinced that this stretch of road should be assessed at all as the number of people actually making trips solely between Euston and King's Cross is, let's just say, minimal. It takes so long to exit Euston Bus Station that it's probably quicker to walk anyway.

One of the worst violations I've seen is the 171 curtailment.
I've decided to lump the Marylebone Road and Kingsway plans into one section as they both only involve a solitary route. For the former corridor, it is simply a matter of speeding up journey times and involves re-routing the 205 directly along Marylebone Road, rather than serving the station forecourt. From a selfish perspective, this is brilliant news, as it means whenever I'm using the route on the way home and intend to catch at train from Paddington, I no longer have to sit in the queue to exit Harewood Avenue for 10 minutes and wish I'd changed for a 27 instead. However, what this means for providing a convenient and accessible bus route from Marylebone Station is hard to say - for some people walking down to the stop on the main road could prove to be a challenge.

For reducing the number of buses per hour on Kingsway, a frequently clogged up road between Holborn and Aldwych, TfL have decided to be extreme again and curtail the 171 at Elephant & Castle, meaning it will no longer serve any part of Central London A ridiculous move, in my eyes, as the route has very strong commuter flows from the Peckham and Camberwell areas, but even as far as Bellingham, where using national rail simply isn't an option for some residents. It doesn't help that Thameslink is the train operating company for the railway line parallelling much of the 171 line of route in South-East London. Withdrawing the route from zone 1 is absurd and will lose TfL both patronage and revenue as the 171 becomes a waste of a route North of Peckham, duplicated entirely by the 12 (which is considered to be free by a lot of punters anyway). It is grossly unfair to deprive working class households of their much-valued and efficient method of commuting into work, as after all they are the people who use and appreciate bus services the most. Perhaps Holborn isn't the right terminus for the 171, but finding somewhere else in Central London is, in my eyes, essential. I would propose using the remaining space at the Covent Garden stand for the route as mentioned earlier, also providing some new leisure opportunities for those living in Camberwell, Peckham and Brockley, perhaps boosting ridership on weekends. Cutting the 188 to Waterloo might also be a wise move for reducing bus flows on Kingsway as the number of commuters using this service from North of the Thames has declined noticeably following my observations. It is still a much better cut-off point than the busy and dangerous junction of Elephant & Castle, with workplaces around Holborn being a short walk away from Waterloo that is sometimes even faster than the bus as Aldwych becomes gridlocked all too often. A more extreme alternative would be to merge the fairly short 1 and 168 services, to become one route from Hampstead Heath to Canada Water, with very few links being broken.

Another route ruined by the changes.
 Next up it's Kingsland Road, running from Dalston to Shoreditch and parallelled by the London Overground service. A great excuse, therefore, to lessen services. Along with a slight off-peak frequency increase on the 149, the 67 and 242 are having their terminals tampered with. The 67 will be curtailed to run only between Wood Green and Dalston Junction, whilst the 242 will be routed away from Liverpool Street and St Paul's and sent to Aldgate via Commercial Street, which the 67 currently uses. This is another stupid move - ever since the 242 was cut back from Tottenham Court Road the route is completely dead apart from in Hackney, where some local journeys are made to and from the residential streets it serves alone. The 67, on the other hand, is hugely popular and almost always busy, with the link right into the heart of Shoreditch as well as the shopping district of Wood Green being heavily relied upon by residents of West Green and Stoke Newington in particular. Curtailing the 67 will be disastrous for its patronage, effectively halving the number of people who use the service as only one key destination will be served. The 242 re-routing won't really help boost numbers on this failing service either - the links it'll provide from Shoreditch are duplicated by the 254 at the Aldgate end, or the 55 at the Northern end, so bus usage along Commercial Street will basically cease, so everyone loses out. I think that again a drastic solution is required for this, without touching the 67. The 242, frankly, does not really deserve to exist in its current form, where buses are largely carrying fresh air, whilst other services are unjustifiably being cut. By re-routing the W15 service between Homerton Hospital and Hackney Town Hall via the former 242 roads, the local trips there will still be accounted for (as well as some new links to Walthamstow and Leyton), but also on a more compact vehicle suited to demand. Those actually travelling to Central London, which is a small number, can take advantage of same-stop interchange in Hackney Town Centre. I understand that there would be a little cause for concern regarding passengers attempting to board at Kingsland Road in the morning, so perhaps small frequency increases on the 149 and 243 can be deemed an acceptable compromise.

Heading for withdrawal?
 This city bridges scheme (London Bridge, Blackfriars Bridge and Farringdon Road) is another complicated one, so a brief summary can be justified.

Route 35 will receive a peak frequency increase to 8bph.
Route 40 will be withdrawn between Elephant & Castle and Aldgate and diverted to Clerkenwell Green via Blackfriars Bridge.
Route 45 will be withdrawn between King's Cross and Elephant & Castle.
Route 46 will receive an extra morning peak journey.
Route 100 will be extended around the corner to St Paul's.
Route 388 will be withdrawn between Liverpool Street and Elephant & Castle.
Routes 343 and RV1 are subject to separate review apparently.

A short-lived extension.
These changes are some of the worst out there and that's coming from a bunch of genuinely awful propositions. The 388 was only extended to Elephant & Castle 16 months ago, yet they are already planning to rid this section of route? It clearly shows how indecisive and insecure the bus planning department are at the moment - the 100 extension hardly makes up for the links provided either and literally involves travelling an extra stop. This also shows how much the 388 is really proving to be a nuisance in Central London, having so many different destinations over the years and none of them being regarded as successful. It's interesting to note though that the solitary extension in the East to Stratford City is probably the only reason buses can become genuinely busy on the service.

The 45 curtailment is farcical, almost halving the route and getting rid of the busiest section. There is currently a very large commuter flow from the residential areas of Camberwell, Brixton and Clapham Park to the office districts of Southwark and Chancery Lane, which this route caters for very effectively. Cutting the route to Elephant & Castle means it hardly has any purpose, being duplicated by the already more popular 35 service for almost the entire journey. A round the corner to link from Clapham Park, which is the quietest part of the route, will be the only unique element of the 45 and it seems that TfL are considering the route for withdrawal, which is hardly sensible given its promising patronage numbers. Re-routing the 40 is a useless replacement too - I respect that there may be demand from Dulwich to Southwark, but sending it over to Clerkenwell Green at the North end is a really dumb decision, with the Blackfriars Road corridor being completely annihilated in terms of providing a varied set of destinations North of the Thames. The 40 is just doing to duplicate the 63 for crying out loud. This also leaves Fenchurch Street Station without a bus service, which is appalling for a major London rail terminal.

With the 343 and RV1, I'm hardly surprised that the latter route is being reviewed and I suspect it'll be a complete withdrawal following the recent savage cut to every 20 minutes, as well as the disturbingly rapid decrease in passenger numbers over the past couple of years. I just hope they don't consider the 343 to be an adequate replacement though - the Tower Hill to Waterloo and London Bridge to Aldwych links are genuinely useful and could be well patronised if given the correct publicity. Sending the 381 over the Thames to Covent Garden would cater for most of this, although the Tower Hill to Waterloo link is a little more difficult to combat. An eccentric suggestion would be to revive the 15H and send it over the river, although to my understanding that service has to be duplicated entirely by a mainstream route as the Routemasters aren't wheelchair friendly.

This photo was taken near Fenchurch Street, which is inconvenient enough to get to.
My thoughts? Well, for starters I would keep the 45 in its current form - the demand is just too great to sacrifice. With the 100, I've always thought an extension to Russell Square, via Barbican, St John Street, Percival Street and Great Ormond Street would establish some really popular back road links in Central London, although that's out of the window due to the lack of £££££. That aside, I do genuinely think sending the 40 via the Southwark area would be popular, although instead of dumping the route at Clerkenwell I would terminate it at Liverpool Street, using the former 388 routeing, to retain that handy North-East link from Blackfriars Road as well as serve some more office blocks, which would make the City workers happy. However, instead of just leaving Fenchurch Street isolated, a simple re-routing of the 100 between Aldgate and Bishopsgate would be a suitable replacement. In regards to my plans for the 388, I'll include them in the next and final section, where they fit in more appropriately.

A number that shall cease to exist.
The final scheme reduces bus flows along London Bridge and Hackney Road, by withdrawing the 48 service altogether. A peak frequency increase on the 26 and an extension of the 55 to Walthamstow Central are an attempt at a replacement. I feel that these proposals are a perfect example of TfL not providing an efficient analysis of bus flows and simply looking at a map. It is true that the 48 and 55 duplicate each other for a very long period of time, but if they actually witnessed the services on a day-to-day basis TfL would find that both are extremely well-used, providing valuable assistance to each other. Without the 48, the 55 is going to simply crumble and also become unreliable with its extension - the route is long enough already and the traffic on Hoe Street is terrible on most days. The link from Bishopsgate to Hackney is also extremely popular at weekends, especially on a Saturday afternoon, with the 48 actually struggling to cope with the demand from Shoreditch. The 26 on the other hand, is another route which is struggling to reach its potential, with very few trips actually utilising an adequate proportion of the capacity provided. It provides some pretty cool links into Waterloo from North-East London, but only serving housing along Hackney Road and in Hackney Wick before calling it a day doesn't get you full buses.

The current terminus of the 55.
At the moment, I think the running both the 48 and 55 together is certainly viable. Whether operating the 26 and 388 is worthwhile is another matter though. They are two of the least used Central London routes and their patronage figures combined are probably less than that of the 55 and possibly the 48. Therefore, I propose merging the 26 and 388, to run as one route from Waterloo to Stratford City, running via the former until Liverpool Street then taking the routeing of the latter, via Bethnal Green and Victoria Park Road, heading Westbound. I chose this route because the new links from Bethnal Green Road to Fleet Street and Waterloo could be quite popular, although to compensate for the loss of the Hackney Road corridor, perhaps in rush hour a few extra services could run this way, numbered the 26. Ideally these two routes would be left alone, but if merging something is truly necessary it's a far better choice than the 48 and 55, in my opinion.

Under the Crossrail consultation, route 25 will be cut to Holborn Circus.
Congratulations, you got through all of the proposals and my resultant ranting! Feel free to leave your own suggestions in the comments section, but to round off I've put together a complete list of my changes so you can view them in perspective rather than scattered everywhere. To view the actual TfL proposals like this, click here for the article where all this information came from!

Tottenham Court Road:

Divert 390 via Great Portland Street, between Oxford Circus and Warren Street.
Curtail every other 29 at Warren Street, with 5bph continuing to Trafalgar Square (alternate is curtail every other 14 at TCR)

King's Road, Piccadilly & Shaftesbury Avenue:

Curtail route 19 at Sloane Square, no longer serving Battersea Bridge.
Divert route 22 to Piccadilly Circus.
Withdraw short 38 trips to Hackney Central, run as an 8bph through service.


Divert route 11, between Mansion House and Westminster, via Victoria Embankment.

Fleet Street:

Divert route 11, between Mansion House and Westminster, via Victoria Embankment (compensate for re-introduction of the 23 between Paddington & Liverpool Street).
Curtail route 172 to Aldwych.
Reduce supplementary 15H service to run summer weekends and bank holidays only.
Divert route 4 between Aldwych and Barbican via Fetter Lane, Holborn Circus and Charterhouse Street/Long Lane.
Divert route 76 via St Paul's, no longer serving Bank.
Re-route the 341, between Chancery Lane and Aldwych, via Holborn and Kingsway.


Curtail route 171 to Covent Garden (share with the RV1).
Curtail route 188 to Waterloo.
Merge routes 1/168 to run Hampstead Heath-Canada Water 8bph (compensate for route 341 introduction)

Euston Road: 

Merge routes 73/476 to run Oxford Circus-Northumberland Park 10bph

Kingsland Road:

Withdraw route 242, divert W15 from Homerton Hospital to run via former 242 routeing until Hackney Town Hall.
Slight increase on peak frequencies for routes 149 and 243 to compensate.

Blackfriars Road:

Divert route 40 at Elephant & Castle, via former 388 routeing, to Liverpool Street
Divert route 100 via Fenchurch Street and Gracechurch Street.
Restructure route 388 to run from Waterloo to Stratford City.
Run route 26 as rush hour only trips from Hackney Wick to Waterloo via the current routeing, perhaps six in the morning and six in the evening.

Thanks for reading, stay safe and please give me your thoughts and improvements!


  1. This was a very interesting proposal that you have given here. The changes that have been seen here some are a waste and some can be beneficial but as always, thanks for providing enthusiasts blogs to read as they are very detailed and also the tender changes which is slightly better than LondonBusRoutes. Great Blog once again!

    1. Thank you! Yes I really ought to have spent longer on this post as rushing can save time but also lead to a mixed outcome - some rave reviews and other people borderline mortified!

  2. You forgot to mentioned the possible changes to routes 88 (PHF-CC) and C2 (withdrawl)

    1. You're right in that these changes are proposed in Central London, although technically speaking the consultation wasn't released in the week of excitement I'm blogging about, so I decided not to include them. They're also pretty soft changes compared to what we saw in the 853 London article!

  3. Really interesting read and certainly better than the Tfl proposals which sound like they've taken all the bad decisions possible and chucked them into these proposals. I have some further ideas which either sound good or ridiculous. So here goes.

    1. Withdraw the 35 altogether and increase the PVR on the 42, 45 and 133 to compensate. If passengers want to go all the way to Clapham Junction, the 344 does that quicker.
    2. Re-route the 185 from Vauxhall to Battersea Park Station along the current 436 line of route.
    3. Extend the 436 to follow the 36 to Hyde Park but divert it to terminate at Green Park.
    4. If the 19 were to get curtailed to Sloane Square, would that give scope to extend the 319 further north or can that area share routes? I don't believe Knightsbridge has any bus stands so Hyde Park might be the next best thing.
    5. Is withdrawing the 44 between Victoria and Battersea Park Station doable?
    6. Cut the 188 back to either Waterloo or Elephant but extend the 381 to Aldwych or Covent Garden to compensate.
    7. Extend the 24 down to Battersea via Chelsea Bridge to compensate for the withdrawal of the 44 there.

    On another note, Tfl certainly should never go ahead with cutting two busy routes back to Elephant because of the lack of stand space at Newington Causeway and Lambeth Road. Eight routes already do, so cutting any more back is a terrible idea.

    1. Thank you!

      1) I'm really not sure about this - the 35 does duplicate a lot but it's one of the few services in Central London which is really busy all the time. People use it for very long distances. I think keeping it would generate more income than scrapping altogether.

      2) It's a nice thought but I'm sure Dulwich residents will have something to complain about as often you get Southbound 185s at Vauxhall already full and standing from Victoria. There is basically zero demand from Battersea Park to Camberwell/Forest Hill although the link to Victoria is actually still popular, so I'd keep the 185.

      3) Love this, the 436 terminus is useless at the moment. I'd be up for sending it all the way to Oxford Circus.

      4) Extending the 319 would open up some nice links but I'm not sure about reliability, plus two routes on Sloane Street means even more congestion!

      5) People would most certainly complain. There's a load of offices in Victoria so removing routes from there will usually cause a fuss.

      6) The 188 cut back I agree with, the route is far too long and isn't used much North of the Thames. I like the 381 extension, but it would compensate more heavily for the RV1 which could be withdrawn here.

      7) I've always wanted to extend the 24 from Pimlico, but it'll never happen unfortunately. That route has remained unchanged for over 100 years and there's way too much political influence so even a one stop extension would cause massive grief.

      Indeed, Elephant & Castle isn't a friendly interchange point either. Some nice ideas here and keep going with the planning!

    2. Really appreciate the feedback. Here's Part 2 of my suggestions.

      8. Withdraw the 452 between Kensal Rise & Ladbroke Grove and re-route it via the current 23 to Westbourne Park. Also, withdraw it between Vauxhall and Wandsworth Road Station since that link seems to be carrying fresh air.
      9. Merge the 74 and 430 and make the former 24 hours.
      10. I'm wondering if any changes would benefit the 28, 328 and C3. I'm unsure how well used those three routes are.
      11. Withdraw the 135 between Old Street and Aldgate and use the 205 as a replacement
      12. Curtail the 155 to either Oval or Stockwell but increase the PVR on the 333 to compensate. My issue is where to re-route the 155 if at all? Vauxhall is covered by the 88 and 196 so that's a no-go.

    3. I'll respond to these in a similar fashion...

      8) I approve, by re-routing the 7 via Colville Road you can rid the Western part of the 23 altogether and send it back to Liverpool Street where it was used more. I'd be inclined to agree with cutting it back from Vauxhall, but going down there in the morning peak might be a good idea just to see if the extra capacity is genuinely used at the busiest times.

      9) This also makes sense to me, the duplication North of the Thames seems wasteful.

      10) All three are pretty well-used overall. The 28 is hopelessly unreliable though and isn't that well used up to Kensal Rise, but I imagine residents would cause a fuss if the link were removed. The 328 was very busy from end-to-end although the section from W. Hampstead-Golders Green is a tad overbussed now with the 139 also completing this route, although I'd say the links it provides South-West are too valuable. The C3 is pretty popular end-to-end and works well as a short route.

      12) I'm not sure on this one - curtailing at Aldgate would make the 135 rather useless and the link from the Commercial Road corridor to Liverpool Street is very popular at rush hour. You also get a fair bit of night life demand from the Shoreditch area.

      12) I think the 155 should be kept, it's well-used especially in rush hour. You could probably reduce the 333's frequency though, it seems overbussed to me.

  4. So interesting. Thanks for the analysis!

  5. Interesting blog.
    In my opinion, I would extend route 172 to King's Cross and maybe Euston. That way Clerkenwell Green doesn't lose a bus service, and it can make the Clerkenwell Green bit of the route more reliable

    I would keep the 48 too, as it does seem to be well used
    As for the 94/113, I'd keep the 94 in current form, but the 113 could divert via Marble Arch and terminate at Victoria Bus Station (maybe curtail the 13 at Marble Arch, but the problem about doing that would be that there would be no bus links from North Finchley/Golders Green to Victoria)

    These are just my views and opinions

    1. I'd just curtail the 113 to Portman Square - it used to terminate there until last year anyway.

    2. Best idea, to be honest. I have no idea why the 113 got diverted to Oxford Circus anyway.

  6. Guess what...
    Route RV1 is being withdrawn. What's your reaction to this?
    And 343 we still have no idea what's happening to that route

    1. 343 is being extended to Aldgate on 15th June, coinciding with RV1 withdrawal. I'm not surprised about it given the ridership decline and frequency reduction, but it'll be sad to see parts of the South Bank and Covent Garden left without a bus service - it can be quite useful.


Feel free to comment + share your views, but please do so in a responsible manner, or it will simply be deleted!