'Save Islington's buses': Call for action as sweeping cuts loom

A London bus

A London bus - Credit: PA

People are being urged to have their say on proposed bus cuts which include the ditching of route 4, running between Archway and Blackfriars, and other major changes.

Transport for London (TfL) is holding a consultation until July 12, as it struggles with funding shortages and a drop in passenger numbers because of the pandemic.

Islington Council is encouraging people to respond to the consultation, with cuts proposed to the 56, 43, 135, 205, 254, 259 and 476 buses, and plans to re-route the 214.

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."  

On Thursday, Islington Council is set to agree a motion to "save Islington’s buses", which includes calling on central government to agree a long-term funding deal with TfL. 

An emergency funding deal was extended on Friday until July 13, as negotiations continue.

A Transport for London 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.

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“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: “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 has 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.