'I'm partially disabled, 87 and need the bus to get to hospital'
- Credit: Kathleen Greaves
A Tufnell Park pensioner has spoken out about the impact on lives if route 4 is cancelled as part of London-wide bus cuts.
Kathleen Greaves, 87, has lived in the area for 40 years and has used the number 4, running between Archway and Blackfriars, frequently since she retired.
Cuts have also been proposed to the 56, 43, 135, 205, 254, 259 and 476 buses, along with plans to re-route the 214.
Kathleen said: “I’m partially disabled, I have to use a walker and I can’t walk up to the end of the road for the shopping and certainly can’t walk up to the hospital if I need to go to Whittington Hospital. So, the number 4 is very important for me.
“A lot of people in the area, not just Tufnell Park Road but surrounding streets as well, are elderly and can’t walk very far, and really need the bus to go down to the shops at Holloway Road and up to the hospital.”
In total, 250 buses and 16 routes across London could be removed from service in an effort by Transport for London (TfL) to save money.
TfL launched a public consultation on proposed cuts and changes to bus routes in June and recently extended the deadline from July 12 to August 7 due to “exceptionally high” interest.
A TfL spokesperson said customers, communities and stakeholders "may need more time to review, understand and provide feedback".
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Without Route 4 Kathleen, who runs a local resident’s group, would need to walk to Holloway or Archway to catch a bus, “which would be too far for an awful lot of people”.
She added: “It is proposed that they might run an existing single-decker which comes along Holloway Road up Tufnell Park Road but that is not a satisfactory solution because those busses get very crowded at times.
“A single-decker is not really acceptable and it’s really very difficult for disabled people using single-decker busses because they are not well provided for and that’s why we’re concerned about losing our double-decker.”
Islington council has urged people to have their say in the consultation. In June it tabled a motion to “save Islington’s buses”, which included calling on central government to agree a long-term funding deal with TfL.
Cllr Rowena Champion, Islington's transport and environment lead, said: “Buses are vital to our borough. They are the cheapest and most accessible form of public transport, and local people rely on them every day. But TfL is the only capital transport network that doesn’t receive any grant from central government and the delays to a funding deal are putting our buses at risk.
“The cost-of-living crisis, the climate emergency, and the ongoing recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic have made bus services more important than ever, as an accessible, cost-effective, and more sustainable alternative to cars."
TfL says savings need to be made with customer numbers still “significantly below” pre-pandemic levels.
A TfL spokesperson said: “There is no UK recovery from the pandemic without a London recovery and there is no London recovery without a properly funded transport network in the capital.
“It is essential London receives the sustained long-term government funding that is vital for the coming years if a period of ‘managed decline’ of London’s transport network is to be avoided.”
A Department for Transport spokesperson said earlier this month: “We have repeatedly shown our commitment to supporting London’s transport network throughout the pandemic, providing almost £5 billion in emergency funding to Transport for London and pledging a further billion pounds of investment per year through business rates retention at the most recent Spending Review – all at a time of significant pressure on the national finances."
The spokesperson said the department committed "to explore a long-term settlement" in February, but that it had yet to receive "vital evidence required to progress talks".
Go to haveyoursay.tfl.gov.uk/busreview for details of the bus-route proposals and to have your say.