Greenwich Council’s consultation into the Charlton Masterplan and Woolwich Road has revealed some TfL plans for bus services alongside other ideas to re-work the streets in the area.

Here’s a few points raised in the study by Urban Movement

  • Reducing peak frequency of the 472 bus from 12 at present to 7.5 per hour. The route will see extension at its eastern end to serve Abbey Wood station due to Crossrail’s arrival.
  • Diverting the 180 at Charlton to serve North Greenwich instead of Lewisham. This potentially cuts links between Abbey Wood, Plumstead, Woolwich and Charlton and Lewisham. The painfully slow and single decker 380 would be the only link and little use to many Plumstead or Abbey Wood residents.

Let’s not forget that trains between these towns and Lewisham could also be permanently removed as a result of Thameslink plans.

Here’s a screengrab from the report:

bus-changes-plans

People could use a train and then DLR from Greenwich to Lewisham. However,taking a train and changing to the DLR costs £1.90 off-peak and £2.10 peak from Charlton and rising 10p a year whilst it’s frozen north of the river. From Abbey Wood it’s £2.10 off-peak and £2.50 in the peak. These options are all more expensive than a bus. Over the Thames and it’s £1.50 for a single journey on trains and the DLR outside of Zone 1 at off-peak times (£1.70 peak).

The prospect of making fares fairer with a TfL takeover of Southeastern, which would likely have reduced them to the same level as other parts of London, now appears to be off after Transport Secretary Chris Grayling blocked the London Mayor and TfL from a takeover.

And there’s this worrying statement about total bus numbers:

“Overall, it is proposed that bus frequency along the Woolwich Road is
set to reduce by approximately 4 buses per hour, while the main flow of buses
into North Greenwich reduces by 1 bus per hour overall as a result of the 180
being diverted.”

If that really is a cut of one bus to North Greenwich then we can assume that crowding levels will be extremely high with at least 20,000 homes coming to the Peninsula, St Mary Magdalene school for 1600 pupils opening in 2018 plus other planned schools, 7,500 homes at Charlton Riverside (with 1,000 homes already in for planning), 350 homes planned nearby in Charlton and a slew of proposals across Woolwich.

DSCF0033

We know many people use buses from places like Woolwich (Zone 4) to North Greenwich (Zone 2) to save hundreds of pounds a year on travel costs.

Abbey Wood and Woolwich Crossrail stations will likely take a hefty number of those people but it’s still zone 4 and so a fair few will stick to the cheaper option. It’s £1320 for an annual Zone 1-2 travelcard (which also allows use on any bus even beyond Zone 2) and £1892 for Zone 1-4. Almost £600 saved a year by taking a bus to North Greenwich from Woolwich.

Cycling

The poor cycle lanes in the area are also mentioned in the report. Cycle Superhighway 4 will now be curtailed from central London to Greenwich instead of Woolwich. The document states consultation on extension is not planned at all up to 2020.

The report states that removing the central reservation of the dual carriageway would also allow wider paving and dedicated cycle lanes if CS4 ever arrives.

Bugsby’s Way

The plan is to re-direct traffic to Bugsby’s Way instead of Woolwich Road. Great, but what about all those homes and shops being built increasingly close to Bugsby’s Way? Many new residents moving to the Peninsula need to cross Bugsby’s Way to reach shops and many other amenities. This suggestion seems to overlook this massive change in the residential population.

And forcing more traffic down Anchor and Hope lane contradicts plans to make this a new High Street.

Bus lanes

This is proposed on the dual carriageway. This stretch of road rarely has delays to buses so there’s a danger no problem becomes a problem. Restricting cars to one lane could cause tailbacks on approach roads delaying buses. This has happened in the past at Plumstead and Woolwich.

Crossings

The report has the same fears about a green bridge as I do. It will not be used by many as people at street level, such as pupils at the school beside, will have to climb stairs and/or ramps to cross. And on the north side the topography dropping towards the Thames would mean long ramps eating into park space. Plus the space under a bridge could induce anti-social behaviour. Some similar bridges are pretty gloomy underneath. And it costs £12 million instead of 750k for a single stage crossing such as this:

masterplan-crossing
Bus stand at Charlton

This area near the station, originally for the bus link to the Millenium Dome in 2000, is proposed to be removed:

 Woolwich Road
Two options are planned in its place. Either a park or buildings:
station-bus-turnaround-planstation-bus-turnaround-plan-2

So based on information within this report by Urban Movement bus users seem to take some big knocks. Of course the report could well be missing out planned enhancement’s elsewhere, though why these are not covered is a mystery if they are planned.

In 2015 George Osbourne cut TfL’s annual budget by £700 million a year by 2020. London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s fare freeze is being blamed for exacerbating this issue but when London already has the most expensive fares of any capital in the western world (in excess of almost all European and North American cities) then a fare freeze seems fair.

Given the cuts from central government, and Whitehall preventing many avenues for local taxation or income (eg utilising land around stations to a wider degree such as in Hong Kong) we knew some cuts would be likely. But if they fall in this area that’s an extremely misguided step.

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