Night buses

MQT on 2017-11-16
Session date: 
November 16, 2017
Question By: 
Andrew Dismore
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Do you recognise that night buses provide an affordable and regular service especially for low paid night workers, for whom the night tube is a more expensive alternative?


Answer for Night buses

Answer for Night buses

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Thank you for your question.  I recognise that night buses play a crucial role in supporting all aspects of London's night time economy, including providing an affordable service for night workers.  The night bus network extends across the whole city operating seven days a week and over half of all journeys made on night buses are for commuting.  London's bus network is affordable.  As part of this, I have delivered on a commitment to freeze all TfL fares and launched the hopper fare in 2016 which will be extended to allow multiple bus transfers in 2018.  Night tube services are, of course, priced off-peak but the night bus network does offer a viable, affordable alternative for low paid night workers.  Following the launch of the night tube, we introduced additional bus services to help passengers start or finish their journeys and to provide new travel opportunities to and from suburban local centres.  These were introduced to complement each stage of night tube.  Demand on the night bus network has, however, fallen in recent years particularly in central London with the launch of night tube.  There has also been a more general decline in radial night bus use from central London at weekends.  Night bus service frequencies, therefore, have been adjusted in response but in no cases are any frequencies dropping below half-hourly.  I would like to reassure you that there will be still be adequate night bus service for people who want the slightly cheaper option for travelling at night.  Finally, I would like to commend the [London Assembly’s] Transport Committee for its report on London's bus network.  TfL has responded to the report and careful consideration has been given to it is five key recommendations as we have got to finalise my Transport Strategy which will be published next year.


Andrew Dismore AM:  A night worker travelling home, for example, from Charing Cross to High Barnet who is now forced to use the tube instead of the night bus because of the cuts in night bus frequency and the last bus running much earlier than before, how much extra is it going to cost them per journey?




Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Depends how many journeys they have had during the day, whether they have got other journeys in the day, where the daily cap applies, whether they have got a weekly oyster card, so it depends what zone they are going from.  You mentioned the zones there but -- so all the data to hand but they can still use the night bus.  They have got another option now with the night tube.  That night tube offer was not there before August 2016.




Andrew Dismore AM:  Actually that is not the case, because a lot of the night buses are now going to be ending much earlier in the evening, but the answer is at least £1.60 a journey, which for a night shift neatly wipes out the 25p increase in the London Living Wage this year, assuming they are lucky enough to be paid the London Living Wage.  And if the journey is done twice a week, which is often weekend working for night workers, that is £166 a year.  Do you think that is fair?




Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I do not accept the premise of your question, but I am happy to look at your figures after this meeting and look at whether that is the case.  I am not sure that is the case.




Andrew Dismore AM:  If you look at the figures. they are published, according to the Customer Service and Operational Performance Panel, some customers will have a preference for bus over tube due to the exact routing or fare differential.  Users of the N5 to Edgware or the N20 to Barnet will see their frequencies worsen to 30 minutes, and for passengers such as low-paid night workers going home after a long and arduous shift who are unable to afford to use the tube, do you think 30 minutes is an acceptable waiting time in your opinion?  Does this not discriminate against low-paid night workers?




Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  No because usage on night buses has reduced, the frequency of night buses has reduced.  But the combination of measures that we are bringing in during my first term as Mayor, from increasing the London Living Wage, from freezing all TfL fares, from unlimited bus travel within an hour, from getting more and more Londoners to sign the good worker compact, will hopefully lead to workers that you are talking about, the poorest workers in London, seeing improvements in their conditions rather than things deteriorating because of a reduction in the frequency of the N5 and the N20.




Andrew Dismore AM:  There was no consultation about these plans from TfL, and their email to stakeholders noting us of the timetable changes, which affected seven night bus routes in my constituency, which it was changed double and in some case triple the gaps between buses, and as I have said, with the last bus being much earlier than before, that email was sent at 19:17 hours on the very same evening that the changes came into effect.  Do you think that was reasonable notice?




Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I think there were separate parts of the consultation information given to users.  In advance of all service changes, TfL publishes all bus services changes on its website every two weeks and on TfL's online journey planner.  On 26 September TfL informed customers of changes and gave advance notice about the most significant changes.  TfL prioritised any customers who use routes 6, 24, 134, N5 and N20 as the changes were significant, rather than those on 43, 214, N9 and N16, which had less impact on customers.  But as always, if there has ways we can improve consultation, letting people know, I am willing to look at that, and so TfL needs to take on board the issues you are raising to make sure that people are told sooner rather than later of changes made in their public transport.




Andrew Dismore AM:  I think it would be very helpful to have that notice more than on the day or evening that it actually happens, but will you now have a look at the position of night workers, who are at the heart of my complaint as it were here, as to how they do travel to and from work, and the costs involved to them, and their preferences for travel, to make sure that they are not unfairly disadvantaged by TfL decisions such as this one?




Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I accept that usage on certain buses has gone down, N5, N20 being a good example, where usage on those routes has reduced significantly over the past couple of years.  There has been a 16.8% reduction of usage on route 5, a 27% decline in usage on route N20.  You cannot run away from those facts, and in those circumstances, I support TfL's decision to reduce the frequency of the buses.  What I do not accept is your constituents not being given enough notice.  They should be given more notice, and TfL need to go away and make sure there has better information given to your local residents, because they do a hard day’s work, often working long hours.  The only way to get from home to work is the night bus, and they deserve a decent service, but also if the service is going to change, they should be informed well in time.