Bus reshuffle could ‘drag’ Tottenham and Edmonton away from central London

A proposed redesign of bus routes has sparked concerns it could “take Edmonton and Tottenham further away from central London.

Transport for London (TfL) is considering changes to routes 259, 279 and 349 serving Enfield as part of plans to cut 4% of bus miles set following a revenue slump caused by the Covid-19 pandemic .

If the move continues, the 349 bus route between Ponders End and Stamford Hill will be axed, with a re-routing of the 279 service from Waltham Cross designed to compensate for its loss. This means the 279 would terminate at Stamford Hill and no longer run between Seven Sisters and Manor House Station.

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Additionally, the 259 service would terminate at Holloway Road instead of continuing to King’s Cross and would be extended north from Edmonton’s Green Bus Station to serve Ponders End, with increased bus frequency.

Members of the Enfield Transport Users Group (ETUG) committee said the changes would lead to “further distancing [of] Edmonton and Tottenham from the central London bus network”.

TfL has also offered to cut the 476 which serves Northumberland Park from Kings Cross to Newington Green. ETUG members said they were “disappointed” that this was not used as an opportunity to allocate more buses and routes to Meridian Water by extending the 476 and W3.

The ETUG welcomed the additional capacity north of Edmonton Green, which would serve new developments in Ponders End and Southbury. But they added: ‘We believe there is a missed opportunity that an extension to Enfield Retail Park could have been made to support the planned Colosseum housing developments within the retail park. Edmonton Green is planning redevelopments of its mall, where new connections made can help the redeveloped mall connect new homes.

Committee members also warned that with the 279 no longer serving Manor House, TfL is planning ‘a major exchange at Ponders End, Southbury Road Stops J and H’. They said cars could not safely pass buses parked at stop J due to a Cycle Enfield bus boarder and called for the stop to be urgently improved.

An ETUG member also raised concerns about the TfL consultation, saying it had “failed to provide most information on most frequency changes, as well as some renumberings”.

According to TfL, the routes that would be affected by the proposed reductions are those where there are very similar existing services or where passengers can use the Hopper fare to keep costs low.

Geoff Hobbs, Director of Public Transport Services Planning at TfL, said: “TfL’s reliance on passenger fares for the majority of its revenue means the effect of the pandemic on its finances has been devastating, requiring the support government to keep public transport running in London. The government set a number of conditions before providing emergency funding to allow TfL to continue operating, including requiring us to produce a plan showing how we would achieve significant financial savings. This plan included reducing the extent of our bus network.

“We have carefully studied our network in order to only propose modifications in areas already heavily served by buses. The bus network is of crucial importance in reducing car use, traffic congestion, road hazards and pollution. With all routes serviced by low-floor vehicles and on-ramps, our entire bus network is also step-free. We have always adjusted the network to reflect changes in our city, but the devastating impact of the pandemic on our finances and government requirements has now required greater scrutiny.

Responding to concerns about the Southbury Road bus boarder, a spokesperson for Enfield Council said: ‘Road safety and the promotion of walking, cycling and public transport are priorities for council. Works along Ponders End High Street not only improve facilities for pedestrians and cyclists, but also change the alignment of the road so that traffic can more easily overtake buses stopped at bus stops. For more information on the Ponders End High Street Improvement Scheme, go to: https://letstalk.enfield.gov.uk/pondersendhighstreet.

The consultation on the proposed changes to bus routes, which is due to run until August 7, is available here: https://haveyoursay.tfl.gov.uk/busreview

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