By Robert Firth, Local Democracy Reporter
A councillor has branded London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s plans to axe bus routes across London “reckless” as data shows many of the under-threat services have more passengers than before the pandemic.
Figures uncovered through a Freedom of Information by Southwark Liberal Democrats revealed 10 out of the 16 routes set to be scrapped had more passengers in the last week of May 2022 than during the same period in 2019.
Two of the routes set to be scrapped, the number 14 and 242, had only slightly fewer passengers than before the pandemic – 99 per cent and 96 per cent of pre-Covid usage respectively at the end of May.
Only two of the routes, the 45 and 521, had less than 80 per cent of pre-pandemic usage over the same period.
Four of the 16 routes Transport for London [TfL] plans to scrap serve Southwark and make stops at hospitals in and around the borough including Guy’s Hospital, St Thomas’ Hospital, Evelina Children’s Hospital, King’s College Hospital and London Bridge Hospital.
The figures challenge claims made by TfL that bus travel has significantly dropped since the pandemic.
Charles Baker, bus network development manager at TfL told a Southwark Council scrutiny meeting on July 6 that the cuts were being made because of the falling number of passengers travelling on services across the capital.
He showed councillors a presentation including a graph showing the falling number of bus users in inner and outer London. Speaking at the time, he said: “There has been a fall in traffic overall but that fall has been greater in central and inner London.
Commenting on the FOI figures, Cllr Victor Chamberlain, Southwark Liberal Democrat group leader, said: “These shocking figures show that Sadiq Khan’s plans are as reckless as they seem.
“The mayor and TfL are proposing to axe vital public services based on dodgy statistics. Cutting these routes is a betrayal of all the Londoners who rely on them.”
Pictured top: Southwark Lib Dem leader Victor Chamberlain with Lib Dem London Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon (Picture: Southwark Liberal Democrats)
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