West Londoners will have to make more changes and will see fewer buses on the roads under the London Mayor's major bus shake-up, Kensington & Chelsea Council has complained.
The Conservative council's transport leader has criticised Sadiq Khan 's proposed cuts to bus routes that pass through the borough, urging residents to fight the plans which it says will reduce local transport options.
In a plea to residents to comment on the proposals, Cllr Will Pascall has labelled the shake-up a "money saving exercise" which could see the number 19 bus service shortened, cutting its route through the borough, among other changes.
Bus passengers could see some connections to Fulham and the West End lost and the changes could also reduce the frequency of some services along major thoroughfares like King's Road.
Which services could be affected?
- Route 19 between Finsbury Park interchange and Parkgate Road would be shortened, cutting its service to the borough; affecting stops near Hyde Park Station, Sloane Square, and other parts of Chelsea.
- Route 11 between Fulham Town Hall and Great Winchester Street would also be shortened, cutting its service to Kensington & Chelsea, which mostly affects stops between Fulham and Sloane Square.
- A reduction in total bus frequency along King’s Road that would shrink the service from 37 buses an hour to 29.5 buses an hour.
- Along Beaufort Street, there would be a reduction from four routes to three, and from 31 buses an hour to 24. Residents using the stops in Beaufort Street would also lose their connection to Knightsbridge and the West End.
However the Mayor and Transport for London (TfL) say there are too many under-used bus routes in the city and that reducing central routes would allow much-needed services to be added in outer London, while also helping reduce air pollution.
Cllr Pascal said the biggest impact for Kensington & Chelsea would be the removal of the number 19 service.
"These cuts, which would result in a 13 per cent reduction in bus services across the borough, appear to have been done purely as a money saving exercise," he said.
"We are now warning the Mayor of London that his plans to slash bus services across central London will be a disaster for residents, visitors to the borough and the capital as a whole and we urge him to reconsider."
Plans to cut some routes through Kensington and Chelsea will mean some trips will be split into shorter journeys that require more frequent changes.
The mayor's office said the extra changes would be covered by the Hopper fare, which allows passengers to make multiple bus changes for free within one hour of first touching in with their Oyster or contactless card.
But Cllr Pascall wrote this would affect vulnerable and less mobile bus users, including disabled people, parents travelling with children and elderly customers.
"These groups will find it difficult to change buses to complete their journeys. Disabled and older people, plus those carrying children, are also in greater need of seats than other passengers. The reduction in capacity may mean these groups will need to stand and wait at stops for longer periods of time," he said.
If TfL and the Mayor forge ahead with the proposals, the changes could affect local bus services by early 2019.
"I hope the Mayor of London will listen to our concerns and those of our residents," Cllr Pascal added.
Why are bus services being cut?
TfL's public transport boss says the changes will match capacity with demand, reduce bus congestion, and make way for increased services in outer London.
It is also about reducing air pollution, as the mayor's plans continue for TfL to convert half of London's trademark red buses to a low-emission fleet by 2020.
TfL is set on trimming back under-used services, its public transport planning director Geoff Hobbs said.
"Ultimately these changes, which are predominately minor route restructures or timetable adjustments, would create an efficient modern network with buses in the right places at the right times.”
"The city's changing infrastructure and travel choices meant it is time for routes to be reviewed," he added.
"Londoners expect their buses to be where they are needed and run in an efficient and cost-effective manner and that's what this review is about.”
The mayor's office added the review, targeting 33 routes, was the first major shake-up of the bus services in 16 years. It reflected that demand for buses had dropped, and some underused and inefficient services were contributing to congestion, slowing journey times and adding to the capital's air pollution.
TfL is facing £700 million a year cuts in Government funding over five years, but had cut its operating costs for the second year running and is on track to achieve an operating surplus by 2021/22, the mayor's office added.