Bus shake up could ‘distance’ Tottenham and Edmonton from central London

A proposed shake-up of bus routes has sparked concerns it could “further distance” Edmonton and Tottenham from central London.

Transport for London (TfL) is considering changes to the 259, 279 and 349 routes serving Enfield under plans for a 4% reduction in bus kilometres drawn up following a collapse in revenue caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

If the move goes ahead, the 349 bus route between Ponders End and Stamford Hill will be scrapped, with a rerouting of the 279 service from Waltham Cross designed to compensate for its loss. It means the 279 would terminate at Stamford Hill and would no longer run between Seven Sisters and Manor House Station.

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In addition, the 259 service would terminate at Holloway Road instead of continuing to King’s Cross and would be extended northwards from Edmonton Green Bus Station to serve Ponders End, with an increase in the frequency of buses.

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

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

ETUG welcomed the extra capacity north of Edmonton Green, which would serve new housing developments in Ponders End and Southbury. But they added: “We feel there is a missed opportunity that an extension to Enfield Retail Park could have been achieved to support the planned Colosseum housing developments at the retail park. Edmonton Green is planning redevelopments to its shopping centre, where new links established can support the redeveloped shopping centre from linking the new homes.”

Committee members also warned that with the 279 no longer serving Manor House, TfL anticipates “significant interchange at Ponders End, Southbury Road Stops J and H”. They said cars cannot safely overtake buses parked at stop J because of a Cycle Enfield bus boarder and called for the stop to be urgently improved.

One ETUG member also raised concerns over TfL’s consultation, claiming it had “failed to provide most information on most frequency changes, as well as some renumbering”.

According to TfL, the routes that would be affected by the proposed cuts are ones 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 service planning at TfL, said: “TfL’s reliance on passenger fares for the majority of its income means the effect of the pandemic on its finances has been devastating, requiring government support to keep public transport in London operating. The government set a number of conditions before it would provide emergency funding to enable TfL to keep operating, including requiring us to produce a plan to set out 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 changes to areas that already have a high provision of buses. The bus network is critically important to reducing car use, congestion, road danger and pollution. With all routes served by low-floor vehicles and access ramps, our entire bus network is also step-free. We have always adjusted the network to reflect our changing city, but the devastating impact of the pandemic on our finances and government requirements have now required a more significant review.”

Responding to the concerns over the bus boarder in Southbury Road, a spokesperson for Enfield Council said: “Road safety and promoting walking, cycling and public transport are priorities for the council. The works along Ponders End High Street not only improve pedestrian and cycle facilities but also change the road layout so that traffic can more easily pass buses stopped within the bus stops. More information about the Ponders End High Street improvements scheme can be found at: https://letstalk.enfield.gov.uk/pondersendhighstreet.”

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

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