Croydon and Sutton’s largest public transport passenger group has issued a withering demolition of TfL’s proposals to shorten bus routes through Croydon town centre, as JEREMY CLACKSON reports
Transport for London’s plan to shorten 11 bus routes through Croydon town centre is “a straight cut in services which looks like a fait accompli as new tenders have already been issued with shortened routes”.
That’s the claim made by the East Surrey Transport Committee, the largest group representing public transport passengers in Croydon, Sutton and parts of Surrey, in a highly critical 12-page response to TfL’s public consultation.
TfL published its plans at the end of November for 11 routes which serve East Croydon and West Croydon stations, the Whitgift shopping centre and Fairfield Halls arts venue.
The routes affected are the 50, 75, 109, 154, 197, 250, 264, 403, 405, 412 and 433.
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.
In its consultation document, the transport authority claimed that “the majority of passengers do not travel across the town centre”, which is plainly untrue, but is a premise which underpins the proposals. The East Surrey Transport committee claims that the proposals will affect the journeys of 16,000 every day.
When TfL puts its changes into operation – as they will surely do – many of the routes will no longer run through the centre of Croydon, via Wellesley Road, and so will present commuters, shoppers, hospital visitors and other passengers with a long trudge from one end of the town to the other as they seek their connection.
The TfL consultation, which closes this Sunday, gave as one of its principle reasons for the changes the traffic disruption anticipated during the construction works on the £1.4billion new Westfield shopping mall, which is though might begin later this year.
In its analysis of the proposals, the East Surrey Transport Committee says that the bus changes conflict with at least five elements of the Mayor of London’s own transport policy.
The consultation response is the work of the committee’s chair, Charlie King, and secretary, Peter Appleford, who between them have been lobbying for improved public transport in the borough of Croydon, parts of Sutton and in north-east Surrey for decades.
King and Appleford know a lip-service public transport consultation when they spot it.
In their response to TfL, they write, “We understand the need to make some changes to the bus routes in Croydon during the construction of Westfield and the closure of the entrance to the Whitgift shopping centre at Wellesley Road.
“However, we do not believe the scheme put forward in TfL’s proposal is right nor is in the interest of passengers, as over 16,000 passengers per day will be inconvenienced and people with reduced mobility will be severely inconvenienced with the loss of almost all same or adjacent bus stop interchanges, with passengers having to walk up to 200 metres to change buses.
“There will also be a considerable loss of interchange with the tram.
“The proposal recognises the that 190,000 people per day need to cross Croydon, but fails to take into consideration the needs and requirements of passenger to cross Croydon on the individual affected routes, especially where there are no alternative routes such 264 and 403.
“The [proposal fails to consider the] lack of alternative roads in central Croydon to Wellesley Road, the needs of out-patients, workers and visitors to other hospitals other than Croydon University Hospital, the reopening of Fairfield Halls which has all four routes from West Croydon removed. Nor does it provide additional access to the remaining retail and shopping areas.”
TfL has argued in its proposals that the new Hopper system, which allows unlimited bus changes during a one-hour travel period, would mean that there would be few additional fares to be paid if passengers have to alight one bus as it ends its journey on one side of Croydon, and then take another route from the other side of the Westfield building site.
But the transport committee report points out that, “journeys on routes 75, 154, 250 and 264 may well be over one hour especially at peak times”.
And they add: “Although there may be no cost on other routes there is still a time and inconvenience cost factor, especially if you need to only go two stops further on and are faced with a 200-metre walk between stops.”
The committee’s report provides a helpful list of the ways in which TfL’s plans conflict with the Mayor of London’s transport policy:
- It does not encourage people to use public transport by making it more difficult
- It does not transfer resources from Central London to the outer boroughs
- It reduces public transport in the only London borough that has had an increase use of TfL bus service by 8 per cent
- It causes considerable inconvenience to people with disabilities and reduced mobility
- It increases pollution and reduces air quality in Croydon Town Centre
Comments can still be registered on the TfL consultation until January 13, this Sunday. To do so, visit the TfL consultation site here.
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