‘Bus cuts will severely impact residents’: Local politicians urge council to fight Transport for London’s plans

Running out of road? The number 4 bus. Photograph: Julia Gregory

Politicians fear patients travelling to hospital in Islington could be hard hit if key bus routes are scrapped.

Cash-strapped Transport for London (TfL) is planning to cut the number 4 bus, which travels through the City from Blackfriars to Archway.

But local councillors say this would “severely impact residents in Junction and Tufnell Park wards, as well as those who need to attend the Whittington Hospital”.

Cllrs Gulcin Ozdemir and Paul Convery have called for a debate about the transport crisis at full council tomorrow.

They say other planned cutbacks to the 214, 254, 259 and 476 buses would “have a detrimental impact on local people’s ability to move around the borough”.

TfL has suffered massive losses during the pandemic and is struggling to recover with the ongoing trend of working away from the office.

Twenty-two bus routes face the axe, while 60 more could see the frequency of buses reduced. London Mayor Sadiq Khan warned that more cuts could be on the way.

The current proposals, which TfL is consulting the public on, could also see changes to the 205 service, so that it no longer links Paddington to Old Street.

Changes to the number 56 route could limit access to St Bartholomew’s Hospital whilst patients using the 135 to get to Moorfields Eye Hospital might face longer walks from other bus stops.

Councillors say journeys on buses account for 43 per cent of all trips by public transport in Islington and a petition has been backed by more than 1,000 residents.

They also argue that using public transport cuts the number of trips by car and can play an important role in tackling the climate emergency.

The councillors want Labour-run Islington to press the government to agree to a long-term funding deal with TfL, campaign to save the number 4 bus, and fight cuts to other routes.

They are also calling on the council to encourage more people to walk and cycle rather than drive.

TfL has extended its consultation until 7 August.

A spokesperson said: “Buses are the backbone of our transport network and are critically important to reducing car use, congestion, road danger and pollution.

“We have always adjusted our bus network to reflect our changing city, but the devastating impact of the pandemic on our finances has required a more significant review.”