853 exclusive: Transport for London is planning to cut evening and weekend services on one of Greenwich borough’s few north-south bus routes – making it harder to reach some of its most popular tourist and nightlife attractions.
Route 286, which runs from Sidcup to Greenwich via Eltham, Kidbrooke and Blackheath, currently runs every 15 minutes in evenings and on Sundays. But from April, when operator Go-Ahead London begins a new contract, it will be reduced to just every 20 minutes, using the same single-deck diesel buses as now.
The reduction is the latest in a large number of cutbacks to London’s bus services, which come as TfL deals with financial problems following the scrapping of its central government funding, London mayor Sadiq Khan’s partial fare freeze, and the ongoing delays to the Crossrail project. Earlier this year 853 revealed plans to cut routes through central London, including trimming route 53 back from Whitehall to County Hall.
It is also the second cut planned for services along Trafalgar Road and Woolwich Road, following plans to divert route 180 to North Greenwich station when Crossrail eventually opens.
The 286 serves tourist attractions such as Greenwich Park, Greenwich Market and the Cutty Sark and passes within a short walking distance of Eltham Palace. It is the only service connecting Greenwich town centre with the south of the borough, and is also heavily used by University of Greenwich students travelling to and from their campus at Avery Hill.
In the year to April, it was used by 2,903,536 passengers, up slightly from the 2,820,163 recorded two years before.
TfL’s planned service cut emerged in an answer to a Freedom of information request posted on its website.
Geoff Hobbs, TfL’s director of public transport service planning, told 853: “We are planning to change the frequency of route 286 to match demand in the evenings and on Sundays. Changing the frequency will allow us to ensure our network is efficiently run and that buses are running where they are needed most.”
Despite the 286 passing through the small “low emissions neighbourhood” in Greenwich, the service will continue to use diesel buses. Low emissions neighbourhoods do not mandate the use of hybrid or electric buses, but TfL says the vehicles will have Euro VI engines making them “some of the cleanest buses around”.
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