Council Publishes Response to Bus Consultation

Says passengers in Hammersmith & Fulham are paying for the pandemic

Number 72 bus on Hammersmith Broadway
Number 72 bus on Hammersmith Broadway

Hammersmith & Fulham Council has published its detailed response to the recent Transport for London (TfL) consultation to bus service cuts. It concludes that the proposals will seriously damage the borough’s bus network.

Cllr Ben Coleman said in a foreword to the document that the borough did not hold TfL responsible for axing of routes but that ministers had forced it to make unacceptable choices by requiring it to make £400million in budget reductions in less than three years.

He said, “Meanwhile, other governments from New York to Paris are funding public transport after the pandemic to maintain services and keep fares low. This is even more important in the cost-of-living crisis.

“We are deeply concerned that, without sufficient government funding for their public transport, Londoners will effectively end up paying for the pandemic. Because pay they will if TfL’s proposals go through unchanged.”

The council’s analysis suggest bus users in the borough will face a significant disadvantage because, even if a route being cut is being replaced by a new service, at least one in 10 of the alternative routes proposed will require an interchange – and these may not even be at the same stop. This is particularly hard for elderly and Disabled people. It also increases passengers’ risk at night-time.

Night buses, including to Hammersmith town centre, will be significantly reduced. Longer waiting times, longer distances to bus stops and more interchanges could expose passengers to greater risk. Seventy per cent of current N72 users, for example, will have to change buses to reach their destination.

And north of Du Cane Road, passengers will have to walk 600m for an alternative bus. Cllr Coleman says this does not sit well with TfL’s ambitions to improve women’s safety.

Meanwhile, changes to the numbers 23 and 27 will make it more difficult for people on lower incomes to get to the Tesco superstore at Earls Court.

Cllr Ben Coleman
Cllr Ben Coleman

Cllr Coleman continues, “The plans will hit hard our poorest residents and key workers, for whom buses are a transport lifeline. They will affect 22 per cent of H&F’s poorest areas. For example, on Clem Attlee Court, our most deprived estate, if the No. 74 is cut, getting to central London will add 15 minutes to people’s journey.

“For all residents, travelling to Hammersmith and Charing Cross hospitals could take 15 minutes longer after the 74 goes. Staff working late shifts at Hammersmith Hospital will be hit when the N72 is cut with no replacement, with new routes and interchanges that will add 15 minutes to their journey.”

The council’s report shows that around a fifth of affected residents are Freedom Pass holders. These may have particular difficulty changing buses – and getting use to new routes – especially when the interchange is not at the same stop.

Up to nine per cent of passengers affected are Zip card users so younger people will also be disproportionately affected by the cuts.

The council also fears that efforts to boost North End Road Market, which have ironically been funded by TfL, will suffer from the cuts to the 74, 211 and 14 as the trip there will take longer and become less attractive.

The report points out that no guarantees have been given on the frequency of service on the new routes except for the 272 which could mean the impact of the cuts is worse that they fear. It also states that there is a lack of evidence in the proposals for the claim that there is capacity on alternative routes for the routes that are being cut.

TfL is currently considering the feedback it has received in the consultation and aims to publish its consultation report and next steps later in the year.

A Department for Transport spokesperson said, “Transport in London is devolved to the Mayor and decisions on bus routes and frequencies are a matter for him and TfL.

“Over the past two years, we have provided more than £6 billion to ensure London’s transport system kept running throughout the pandemic – and the latest settlement, agreed by the Mayor, protects it against lost revenue as well as supporting £3.6 billion worth of major projects.”

Geoff Hobbs, director of Public Transport Service Planning at TfL, said, “The consultation has now closed and we thank all those who have shared their views with us on the proposals. As with all our consultations, we will take into account all public and stakeholder responses, along with the latest ridership data, before reaching any final decisions.

“We carried out a full equality impact assessment as part of the proposals, which looked at the impact on vulnerable groups. This will be updated to reflect feedback from around 20,000 responses we received.”

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Jacob Phillips - Local Democracy Reporter

September 27, 2022