Transport for London yesterday launched a consultation on buses in Croydon town centre which proposes seriously curtailing 11 routes.
One senior Town Hall figure has criticised the TfL consultation, saying that it is an effort to “hoodwink” the public, and that he expects the transport authority to go ahead and make its changes regardless of what the council and the public have to say about them.
TfL has been axing bus routes and reducing services across the capital as it struggles to balance a budget hit by London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s fares freeze and the multi-billion costs of the over-runs of the late-running CrossRail.
Until now, Croydon has been spared any of the more drastic bus service changes, largely because passenger numbers on routes around the borough have continued to grow.
But the consultation published yesterday changes all that for passengers who use routes 50, 75, 109, 154, 197, 250, 264, 403, 405, 412 and 433.
TfL say that some of the route changes are because of the anticipated traffic disruption in the town centre during the redevelopent of the Whitgift Centre, which is supposed to begin next year.
The consultation, which runs until January 13, seeks the views of the public on proposals which will see buses no longer cross the busy town centre.
TfL claims that, “These proposed changes would help maintain reliability of services in Croydon by making the bus network simpler and more efficient, and would ensure our resources are invested in the right locations. They would also ensure the impact on bus operations, potentially arising from the construction works in the town centre, is minimised.
“Customers…”, they mean passengers, “…who would need to interchange to reach their destination could do so within one hour without additional charge using the Hopper fare.”
But regular bus passengers have seen through TfL’s scheme, and say that the proposed changes will make several stops more remote from the shops in the town centre, causing inconvenience for many, and perhaps even deterring some from bothering to travel in to Croydon at all.
“We’re supposed to be encouraging people to leave their cars at home and use public transport,” one Katharine Street source said today. “These changes will have exactly the opposite effect.”
The changes also seem to reverse previous transport policy in the area, which had sought to make West Croydon a transport hub for buses, trams and TfL’s London Overground rail service. The changes would see six fewer bus routes serve the West Croydon bus station, which only re-opened in 2016 after a two-year rebuild costing millions.
There are at present 23 bus routes that stop at West Croydon, and these run to 11 different boroughs, serving one-third of Greater London. TfL’s own figures suggest that the bus-tram-rail interchange is used by eight million passengers each year.
The changes also appear to anticipate the re-opening of the stretch of Croydon High Street which was turned into a pedestrianised area last year, at short notice, by Croydon Council. The property developers at St George’s Walk want to create a civic square on Katharine Street, in front of the Town Hall, and this would require the re-opening of the High Street for bus and other traffic.
TfL’s proposed changes include:
- Routes 50, 75, 250 and 264 terminating at West Croydon
- Routes 154, 403, 405 and 412 to terminate at Katherine Street and St George’s Walk
- Routes 197 and 433 to terminate at Fairfield Halls
- 24-hour routes 250 and 264 would terminate at West Croydon at night.
TfL said, “The way people travel around London is constantly changing. We need to have a public transport system that adapts to varying demand, while supporting economic growth and allowing Londoners to live, work and enjoy life in the capital.”
The transport authority also claimed that “the majority of passengers do not travel across the town centre”.
But one councillor told Inside Croydon: “Many residents do use these particular bus services to get across town. They will experience huge inconvenience and these changes would add to overcrowding on the north-south services that remain.
“This looks like the latest attempt by TfL to save money while trying to hoodwink passengers that they will be the beneficiaries of these changes.
“Unfortunately, based on past performance, I’d expect TfL to go ahead and make these changes regardless of what its consultation responses say.”
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