Sunday, 18 September 2016

London Bus ridership falls by 3.2%

Some bad news for London Buses; the number of people riding them has fallen according to the latest figures from Department for Transport.

From Route-One
The number of journeys by bus in London fell by 3.6% in 12 months ending 30 June, according to the latest official figures from the Department for Transport (DfT), compared with a 1.8% decrease in the rest of England.

Worse, it shows that bus use in London fell by 3% during April-June 2016, compared with April-June 2015. During the same period bus use in the rest of England fell by 0.6%.

The falls in London are attributed to increasing congestion, making buses unattractive. Full details are here

With the one-hour hopper fare in force, I predict we will see an increase in bus passenger numbers because of the 1-hour free transfer to another bus or tram.

There’s more bad news too; the London Assembly issued a press release back on the 8th September regarding the issue with TfL’s finances.

From London Assembly press release

Problems down the line for TfL finances

·         Mayor’s fares freeze will cost TfL £640 million over four years
·         Bus hopper ticket will cost £30 million per year
·         TfL already facing £2.8 billion cut in Government funding to 2020-21
·         An investigation into the increasing financial pressures on Transport for London (TfL) has raised concerns over TfL’s ability to plug the gaps in its finances, and the impact this could have on services for passengers.

The London Assembly Budget and Performance Committee released its report “Transport for London’s financial challenge”[1]  today.

It identifies that the reduction of its revenue grant from Government, the Mayor’s fares freeze and bus hopper ticket commitments are putting TfL under enormous pressure, and the organisation now faces a cocktail of financial risks for which it does not appear adequately prepared.

Of particular concern to the Committee are the risks to TfL’s capital investment programme.  The previous Mayor’s budget for 2016-17 set out a list of TfL projects that were under threat, including the Sutton tram extension and building of new stations at Old Oak Common.[2]
This report highlights that capital investment projects such as these might have to be scaled back, deferred or cancelled altogether if TfL cannot generate more income or find other ways to save money.

Gareth Bacon AM, Chairman of the Budget and Performance Committee, said:

“Major capital investment in the transport network is needed to keep London moving as its population continues to grow. But the funding to support this investment is now at risk. Government funding will be cut to zero faster than TfL had previously expected.[3] And the Mayor’s fares freeze will put another dent in TfL’s finances.

“Will TfL be able to deliver the Mayor’s transport priorities? What we heard in this investigation hasn’t exactly filled us with confidence.”

Below is some bus news from LOTS:

1) A reminder of Abellio’s Twickenham Garage open day at Fulwell this Saturday 17th from 11am,  LOTS Sales Stand (with new SUP36HH)  on site .  Buses 33, 281, 481 stop outside,  267, 290, R70  about 5 mins walk away (on the LU side).  A special bus service will be run from the Garage to Twickenham Stadium (detail available on the day) .  

2) Now that the SEe electric BYD/ADL buses are entering service on the 507/521  (a second batch has started to arrive), the MEC class Citaros will begin to stand down.   Route 108 at NX will get 18 MECs upseated from 21 to 29 seats.  (by the way, MEC 21 and 42 have been in use thereon for several months already).  Another six are due at River Road for singledeck school services and a further six are due to take over from the present artics on the Luton Airport – Parkway shuttle service.  In practice an MEC (currently MEC 43) has been used at Luton for some months as the ‘spare’ bus, replacing LDPs 196 and 199.

3) Go-Ahead’s latest MHVs (Volvo B5LH/MCV EvoSeti) buses are now being delivered in quantity.  The first are numerically the last and are the Camberwell batch (MHV 56-85).  Several are already licensed for service and  should be out on routes 42 and 185 imminently.  Peckham’s batch (MHV 21-55) for route 63 should follow on later, as should EH 61-73 (E40H/E400MMC) ordered for Peckham route 363.    The new LTs for route 21 should start to arrive soon although it is likely that they may have to await internal equipment similar to what is still delaying entry into service of Arriva’s batch for route 253.   

4) Seven new Volvo B5LH/ Wright Gemini-3  11.4m  buses are on order (in batches of 5 coming soon and 2 rather later) for Kingston University services KU1-5 but until they arrive five VH-class B5LHs (VH 45162-166) are on loan from London United.  The livery for the new buses will be grey with green and blue vinyls.   At least one (45162) of the temporary buses has had a grey front added on its otherwise standard red.  A limited timetable has begun already but the full KU service is due to begin from the 19th.  

5) Southdown PSV’s three new Scania/E400 buses (500/1/2) were the first 66-plate buses to go into service in our area on 1st September and seem to have settled mainly on routes  357 and 409.  Ensignbus has now registered its four BCI triaxle double-deck-(401-404) so they should start to appear on rail  replacements shortly.
6) Next weekend (Sat 24th) will see First Berkshire’s complete restructuring of its services based on Slough.  It features a complete renumbering of routes, several reduced frequencies and withdrawal from some sections of road. In particular, what are now the Heathrow services 75/76/77/78  are split at Slough but interchange between the new routes either side of Slough has been made rather more difficult with no common terminal points.  On Sunday 25th Arriva at Guildford will revise all its timetables again with route 28  reverting to its original route and taken over by Buses ExCetera.

You can follow me on Twitter and Google Plus which is @CLondoner92

Image attribution
By Aubrey Morandarte from Guildford or Coventry, England - London Central LT439 on Route 12, Camberwell Green, CC BY-SA 2.0,


  1. How much of this decrease is the increase in the 3 door route masters where people can ride for free or people with season passes do not ping them on the readers?

    1. Hello Eric,

      That's a good question but one that I can't give a definitive answer to as I didn't compile the statistics. I guess the reasons you've stated could come in to play but its hard to know either way. Maybe you could send a FOI request to TFL for your answer? If you do then let me know what they say.

      With regards to fare evasion, since TFL have removed conductors from a small number of New Routemaster buses I believe it has increased because the 3 door New Routemaster boarding system is similar to the bendy buses. So that's why TFL needs to increase their Revenue Protection Inspectors to catch fare evaders.


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