Bus services in London (Supplementary) [1]

Session date: 
May 17, 2018
Question By: 
Andrew Dismore
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Andrew Dismore AM:  Thank you, Chairman.  In Barnet and Camden there have been recent cuts to bus services.  There have been consultations on some of these; for example, on the complete cut of a route like the original route 13, but the problem is that the outcomes of the consultations are ignored anyway.


If there are frequency reductions, there is no consultation at all, and that can be compounded if there are several routes cut in this way at different times.  For example, Golders Green to Finchley Road via Childs Hill has seen an 8% reduction overall; Finchley Road to Park Road via Swiss Cottage has had an 18% reduction.


Following on the points that have been made, is it not right that if there is this sort of salami-slicing of routes, there should be some consultation at some stage to make sure that people’s views are considered and, more importantly, that those views are actually listened to rather than it being just an exercise?

Supplementary To: 


Answer for Bus services in London (Supplementary) [1]

Answer for Bus services in London (Supplementary) [1]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Can I just explain this?  If there is a popular bus service and there is more demand for the bus service, there will be more buses on that route.  It is a basic supply-and-demand issue.  If there are fewer passengers using a bus, I don’t think it is unreasonable for there to be fewer buses on that route.  When you say “consultation”, the suggestion given by Assembly Member Pidgeon is that even though there are fewer people using the bus, even though there is a need for fewer buses, we should continue to have more buses, at a time when we have lost the operating grant, when our buses are subsidised by £600 million a year from other public transport users.  That is not realistic.  I have to be honest with Londoners in relation to how supply follows demand.  If there are fewer people using those bus routes, it is not surprising if TfL decides to have fewer buses on the route.  The key thing, though, is, when there is a change in routes, for there to be proper consultation and also, when there is a change in frequency, for people to be informed of that so that they can make alternative choices.


The real gamechanger for bus passenger users is going to be us improving the reliability of buses.  That is really important in relation to one of the reasons people give for not using buses anymore.  The unlimited bus Hopper with unlimited bus travel within an hour makes it possible for you to get off bus 1, get onto bus 2 and get onto bus 3 within the course of an hour.  A good example is around this area where there are buses doing similar routes, which people can quite easily use as well.


The third point is to move buses to those parts of London where there is more demand for them, and so we will be reconfiguring our buses to move them from those areas where there is less demand for that bus to those areas where there is greater demand.  I do not apologise for that.


Andrew Dismore AM:  I do not want to push this because we have little time, but if we look at route 13, that was a disingenuous cut because the 82 bus was scrapped, but in fact it was the 13 bus that was scrapped and the 82 was renumbered 13.  There was a huge outcry and there still is because the service is so unreliable.  I get never-ending complaints about the change.  There was huge opposition to that particular change locally, all ignored.


The point about fewer passengers using fewer buses then results in a vicious circle because reliability is not just about turning up on time; it is also about frequency.  If we are serious about trying to get people out of cars and onto public transport, they have to know that there is public transport there for them to actually use.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  That is one of the reasons why we have made sure that, particularly post Oxford Street being pedestrianised and fewer buses now going down Oxford Street than previously was the case, those buses will move to outer London.  The buses will go to where there is demand for those buses.  That could be because of more housing, it could be because there are more jobs in an area or it could be because there are no other forms of good alternative public transport.


Bear in mind that the business of TfL is to make sure we provide a public transport system but to make sure that we follow demand.  It would be perverse for TfL not to want to provide buses in those areas where there is demand for buses.  That is what they are going to carry on doing.