Highgate Neighbourhood Forum response to TfL consultation on the Central London Bus Review
- Firstly, we wish to reiterate our support for public transport in London and urge TfL to continue to press the Government to provide funding for a first class bus service.
- Given the longstanding request for better connectivity between Highgate Village and London’s West End (i.e .that part of central London west of the Northern Line) it would be churlish for the Forum not formally to welcome the connection resulting from the implementation of these proposals, even if at the expense of bus connectivity with the City.
- The Forum has not been able to engage in extensive consultation with local residents but, as must be only too well known to TfL, concern at the potential loss of connecting routes has generated much greater discussion than the corresponding opportunities for easier access to other destinations. It is not clear to us how much existing patterns of travel are a function of existing supply and how long it takes for residents to adapt their desire lines to new patterns of opportunity, for example choosing to shop in different locations or to apply for jobs in places previously difficult to reach by bus.
- In general, it is our opinion that at times when resources are scarce TfL should target service reductions at radial routes where the underground offers a viable alternative, rather than reduce orbital connectivity where there is no alternative mode of transport available. This is now particularly the case, as population growth trends in outer London boroughs since 2011 have outstripped growth in inner London, not least as a result of the larger number of sites becoming available for more intensive residential development in outer London.
- This having been said, we have received representations for a number of residents to the effect that the tube is not necessarily a good substitute for all travellers displaced from buses, whether due to levels of pollution on the underground and the difficulty many older residents have when travelling with luggage.
- The loss of a direct bus connection between Highgate and the City arising from the loss of the 214, is seen by some residents as problematic to some residents, coinciding as it does with the proposed loss of the 271 route and its replacement by the 263.
- A more common source of opposition to the proposals is the loss of the direct bus connection to Kings Cross / St Pancras. This is a link particularly valued by older, often non-car owning, residents when travelling to the Midlands, North and Scotland, often to visit relatives, and when connecting to the continent via Eurostar. This particular population group – one where time is less of a premium – which prefers the bus to the tube for this journey on account of the difficulty in transporting luggage due of the absence of step-free access to Archway, Kentish Town and Kings Cross / St Pancras underground stations.
- Lastly, we were disappointed to note that no improvements to East-West connectivity were included in this Review. We – and our neighbouring forums in Hampstead, Crouch End and Dartmouth Park – have long lobbied TfL for a a bus or buses that connect our neighbourhoods to each other, as well as East Finchley and Muswell Hill, and all the hospitals, clinics, schools, green spaces and shops that they provide.
Richard Webber and Maggy Meade-King