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Relief as mayor u-turns over scrapping of key South London bus routes

Campaigners who decried the potential loss of popular bus services in Southwark and neighbouring boroughs have applauded a u-turn. 

The Mayor of London’s office has announced that bus services that were going to be cut – the 12, 45, 78 and N133 – will be protected. 

However, the 521 route will now be serviced by the 133 and 59 routes. 

Earlier this year, Transport for London (TfL) said that many of Southwark’s most important bus routes could be cut, because they didn’t have enough money from the Government.  

Councillor Kieron Williams, leader of Southwark council, and Cllr Catherine Rose, the council’s cabinet member for leisure, parks, streets and clean air, met London mayor Sadiq Khan, asking for the services to be saved.  

Cllr Williams said: “For many people living in Southwark, buses are the only safe and affordable way to get to work, to access important services and to visit family and friends.  

“Since the summer, when these cuts were first proposed, our campaign made clear just how vital these services are. I am delighted that the Mayor of London has listened.”

Cllr Rose said: “It’s fantastic news. These [buses] are essential to life in Southwark because we have no underground service to most parts of our borough.   

“Buses are a lifeline for those with accessibility needs, and for those who simply have no other means of affordable transport, particularly in this current cost-of-living crisis.” 

More than 20,000 people took part in TfL’s consultation on the matter. 

Among those expressing relief at the change of heart is Joanna Davidson, chief executive for London TravelWatch, who said: “It’s vital that we protect services as we know that in London more people travel by bus than any other mode of transport. 

“Cuts to bus routes would have disproportionately affected lower paid and disabled Londoners – so it’s really positive news that many of these proposals have been shelved.”

Southwark Liberal Democrat councillor Victor Chamberlain said: “We always said these cuts were damaging and could be avoided. It is a huge relief that our Labour mayor has seen sense.

“However, the changes that remain will still be hugely damaging for the people of Southwark and some of our most vulnerable residents.” 

Geoff Hobbs, TfL’s director of public transport service planning, said: “The proposals that we will be taking forward are those that have a minimal impact, as they are areas with much higher provision of buses than there is demand.”

Pictured top: a number 12 bus (Picture: Wikimedia Commons / Au Morandarte)

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