A London Assembly Member has joined local community passenger groups in accusing Transport for London of having already accepted tenders for some of the 11 routes through central Croydon which are set to be curtailed and shortened.
TfL’s consultation on the central Croydon bus routes only finished last weekend, but the suggestion that the outcome is all a foregone conclusion was raised in a 12-page response from the East Surrey Transport Committee, first published by Inside Croydon.
Similar allegations have also been made in the consultation response submitted by Caroline Pidgeon, the London Assembly’s only Liberal Democrat.
Pidgeon agreed with the East Surrey committee, accusing TfL of conducting nothing more than a lip-service consultation because its decisions – and tenders – for many of the affected routes had already been determined, with operators being offered shorter routes which will not in future cross Croydon town centre, potentially inconveniencing tens of thousands of passenger every day.
Croydon is one of the few parts of London where bus travel numbers have been on the increase, and where improved and expanded public transport is a key part of the borough’s Growth Zone plans.
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.
Pidgeon’s response argued that TfL’s proposals for the 11 shortened routes in Croydon fails to deliver on previous promises on buses from TfL and the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.
The proposals, Pidgeon wrote, “take no consideration of Croydon’s growing population”.
And the Assembly Member added, “I would strongly reiterate the concerns of the East Surrey Transport Committee who question whether these proposals have in practice already been decided with tenders already issued for shortened bus routes. I trust this matter can be clarified as a matter of urgency.” TfL, and the Mayor, have obligations to provided answers promptly to Assembly Members at City Hall.
Pidgeon’s consultation submission also said, “In terms of revising these proposals I would like to strongly endorse the detailed comments and recommendations of the East Surrey Transport Committee, which will help maintain all the essential links across in central and west Croydon as well as providing new journey opportunities.
“My final comment about the changes being proposed is that with other bus route changes there is an assumption by TfL that changing buses is a simple process for everyone.
“As someone who first championed a one-hour bus ticket, I do of course fully accept that it has made changing buses easier and more affordable for many people. However, we should not underestimate that changing buses can be challenging for some people, especially for older people and passengers with disabilities. I understand that some of TfL’s proposed changes would involve a 200-metre walk between stops, which I consider unacceptable.”
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Looking ahead to the re-opened Fairfield Halls, I hope that TfL, the Council , and GLA has not forgotten that the buses that pass by and terminate in Park Lane outside the Halls — many being cut now if these proposed cuts are implemented— will be crucial in making transport for customers to the Hals as quick and easy as possible.
We need the “getting to the Fairfield” experience by public transport to be smooth and speedy.