Green councillor raises concerns about TFL bus services

11 January 2018

Steven Neville and Jenny Jones at a 167 bus stop.

Green Party District Councillor Steven Neville has raised concerns about bus services provided by Transport for London when they were invited to talk at Epping Forest District Council on Tuesday 9th January. He pressed them with his concerns about the 167, 549 and 20 bus services regarding future funding, timetabling and level of service. He also re-emphasised how the 167 consultation made a mockery of the process.

"We learnt on Tuesday night that the 20 bus service will not be touched until March 2019 when its contract is up for renewal. Mark Hart of TfL couldn't assure us that there would not be a cut to the service. He did say there would be a consultation but after the 167 consultation I am not filled with any hope. The 167 is unlikely to be touched until 2022. I raised my concerns on the 167, 20 and 549. I was less than impressed with the consultation of the 167 and said the 677 school bus was a poor substitute to the 167 for school children. It did not go along the same route and was only twice a day, stopping students from using after school clubs etc. Mr Hart admitted I was right."

"On the 20, he could not say whether more people used the 20 from Loughton to Debden following the curtailing of the 167 at Loughton, but he would find out."

"I also expressed concern of the 549 which, without consultation, changed its timetable from once an hour to once every 70 minutes, meaning it is not at the same time every hour. We were told this was to improve reliability. It has not succeeded and is a level of inconsistency in the delivery of the service which means that fewer people will use it."

"When fewer people use a bus service because its timings are irregular or inconsistent, and when the bus service is reviewed, the service is reduced because fewer people are using it and so on until the service is withdrawn through lack of use. It is a natural outcome of reducing or cutting services."

Epping Forest Green Party coordinator Dave Plummer, who also campaigns around bus services for the Epping Forest Transport Action Group (EFTAG), said,

"We continually see this happening - unreliable, overpriced and uncoordinated bus services leading to reduced passenger numbers. Rather than address those issues by better management, publicity and incentives to use buses they are allowed to decline further, pushing more people into cars or isolation."

"With an ageing population and growing awareness of the health, economic, environmental and social benefits of public transport this trend has to be stopped and reversed."

"If it's not, the Local Plan ambition of moving transport use away from cars to more sustainable modes will not be achieved. Cutting bus services when we've thousands of new homes on the horizon seems a backward step."