Watchdog demands bus service performance improvement this year as average London bus speeds fall to record low

14 January 2020

London TravelWatch has called for urgent action from Transport for London (TfL) to tackle falling bus speeds which have now dropped below 9 mph for the first time. TfL’s new passenger journey data also shows that the number of passengers using the bus continues to fall.

London Travelwatch has set out a five-point improvement plan to try to halt the decline in bus speeds, a major cause of reduced passenger numbers.

Each year 2.19bn journeys are made by bus in London compared to 1.4bn by Tube. London TravelWatch wants TfL and the London boroughs to prioritise bus services. We propose:

  1. Longer operational hours for the Red Routes and bus lanes;
  2. A review of parking on bus routes;
  3. More bus and cycle only streets;
  4. An extension of the hours of operation of congestion charging;
  5. In the medium term the investigation of road user charging

London TravelWatch Chair, Arthur Leathley commented: ‘People making more than 40m bus journeys a week rely on London’s bus services and many people have no alternative transport.’

Arthur continued: ‘Since 2014 there have been 4 million fewer passengers using the bus every week, despite many improvements. The slower services are becoming a real deterrent and if action is not taken to address this, we will continue to see passenger numbers haemorrhage.’

Bus users are also concerned by the slowing bus speeds. Nick Biskinis, from Clapham Transport Users Group commented: ‘The 88 is a key commuter bus. Yet since 2015 it is often stuck on Vauxhall Bridge Road. The result for passengers is more waiting times, much more overcrowding and longer journeys: disabled passengers in particular are being penalised by deprioritisation of buses.’

Another bus user, Huw Thomas told us: ‘Every bus journey that goes inside the North circular is just so slow. Unless there’s no rail alternative, they always take ages. I wish they were much quicker. There’s a lot of places that I can only get to by bus, but it just takes too long. It really means from where I live I can only go into and out of London, not around it.’

Another bus user from North London told us: ‘about 10 year’s ago I would regularly use the 113 bus all the way from Edgware to Oxford Circus rather than the Northern line because it was so much cheaper. It was a realistic journey to make. But now, it would take far too long to use that route for a regular daily commute.’

Further information

  • London TravelWatch is the official watchdog representing the interests of transport users in and around London, and independent of the transport operators and government. London TravelWatch is sponsored and funded by the London Assembly, part of the Greater London Authority.
  • Follow London TravelWatch on Twitter and YouTube.
  • For more information, please contact the London TravelWatch press office on 020 3176 5941 or 07734 055494.

London TravelWatch London TravelWatch London TravelWatch
Like what you read? Please click below to share on social media.