The five Islington bus routes that could be changed under proposed shakeup of services

The 476 bus. Picture: David Holt (CC BY 2.0)

The 476 bus. Picture: David Holt (CC BY 2.0) - Credit: Archant

The 4, 19, 134, 341 and 476 buses – all of which run through Islington – could have their routes altered or shortened under radical secret plans.

It comes just weeks after Transport for London binned the part of the 277 route that ran between Dalston Junction and Highbury & Islington, saying the new roundabout design meant buses couldn’t terminate there any more.

The authority is planning a major cutback in bus numbers that could affect at least 10 routes across Islington and neighbouring Hackney. Islington’s transport chief Cllr Claudia Webbe reacted furiously to the news, which would see the 4 cut back to St Paul’s from Waterloo, and instead extended to Blackfriars; the 19 cut from Battersea back to New Oxford Street; the 476 terminating at King’s Cross instead of Euston; the 134 cut back to Tottenham Court Road during the night; and the 341 rerouted from Gray’s Inn Road to Farringdon Street, and terminating at Waterloo Road.

“It would be totally unfair for TfL to reduce the frequency or number of buses serving Islington, or to curtail the number of places easily accessed from the borough by bus,” said Cllr Webbe this week. “Buses are cheaper than taking the Tube or rail and serve far more local destinations, making them a lifeline for countless residents and visitors who rely on them to get to work, see family and friends, visit the doctor or do their shopping.”

TfL says it is trying to “remove excess capacity” and “over-bussing” by “simplifying” routes. It claims passenger journey times will be on average 1 per cent longer. Fewer people are using buses, it adds, with demand falling by “8 to 12 per cent in central London” over three years.

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TfL says councils are first being asked for their thoughts on the plans, after which they – along with any amendments – will be put out to public consultation.

Geoff Hobbs, director of public transport service planning at TfL, said: “We need to modernise and simplify the network and ensure that bus capacity is in the right places at the right times.”

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TfL’s government funding, which had totalled hundreds of million pounds a year, has been completely removed from 2018, meaning it must be self-sufficient.

London Assembly Member Caroline Russell, who is also Islington’s sole opposition councillor, said: “It makes sense to take out some central buses to allow others to run more smoothly. But the loss of connections is very worrying.”

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