Editor’s comment: Who should we believe over bus cuts?

PUBLISHED: 15:00 22 August 2018 | UPDATED: 15:00 22 August 2018

The 48 bus is under threat. Picture: POLLY HANCOCK

The 48 bus is under threat. Picture: POLLY HANCOCK


When Westminster Council took TfL to the High Court over CS11 last month, Mr Justice Holgate said he had “never seen anything like” it.

He obviously hadn’t been reading the Islington Gazette or its sister title the Hackney Gazette.

Back in October 2016, Islington threatened to sue TfL over the closure of the A1 at Upper Holloway without notice.

Five months ago, Hackney took on transport bosses over stealth cuts to the frequency of the 48 and N38, saying the public hadn’t been properly consulted.

In June, the same council demanded TfL reinstate the 277 it had curtailed at Dalston instead of Highbury & Islington, a demand that was roundly ignored.

And now Hackney, again, has ordered bus chiefs to scrap “unacceptable” early plans to bin the 48 and scale back other routes, while Cllr Claudia Webbe on Islington’s side has called out the proposals as being at odds with the mayor of London’s own objectives on sustainable travel.

The fact is, TfL’s government funding is gone – hundreds of millions of pounds a year has been swept off the table. It gets some funding from the mayor, but by and large relies on fares (47 per cent of its income), business rates, borrowing, the congestion charge, advertising on buses and at stations, and its property portfolio. With the DfT cash gone, it has its work cut out maintaining London’s world class public transport network.

If that’s the motivation for the bus cuts, then Whitehall, not City Hall, deserves Islington’s fury, and TfL bosses are cowards for not laying blame where it belongs.

But TfL’s own line is that cash is nothing to do with it: the authority just wants to make better use of its bus fleet. That means Islington and Hackney are either questioning TfL’s maths or grandstanding over an easy vote-winner. Who should we believe?

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