Bus route changes consultation response

The Richmond Society has responded to Transport for London’s consultation about proposed bus route changes in Richmond.

1) Loss of service along the A316 corridor between Richmond and Manor Circus.

The proposals to withdraw the H22 and 493 service along this stretch would appear to remove 11 buses per hour between Richmond and Manor Circus during peak periods (a reduction of 40% in the current service).

TfL state that, because routes 190, 391, 419/110 and R68 offer 17 buses per hour, this will continue to provide sufficient capacity to meet demand. However, that capacity would only be available at a reduced frequency, meaning longer wait times and more passengers having to change buses to complete their journey.

It seems particularly inappropriate to consider reducing capacity when significant population growth is occurring along this stretch of the A316 corridor. The fact that Sainsbury’s large supermarket is located at Manor Circus, serves this expanded population, and is highlighted for residential development in the Local Plan should all be relevant considerations.

Furthermore, a loss in bus service frequency negatively affects the PTAL of other nearby development sites for which planning decisions have recently been taken, or are forthcoming. It would especially affect a current proposal to develop 400 units on the Homebase site immediately south of Manor Circus. This development (see www.avanton-manorroad.com) is proposed to be car free, but a reduction in bus services to Manor Circus potentially reduces the site’s PTAL from 5 to 4 – causing it to fall below the council’s stated threshold for acceptability as a car free development. Reducing bus services to Manor Circus therefore works against a coherent and sustainable Mayoral strategy for new housing.

2) Comments on specific routes

i) H22 – The loss of bus capacity connecting Richmond and Twickenham town centres via Marble Hill would be retrogressive and mean a reduced service to Orleans School and the Civic Centre. It is important to know what repercussions this change could have for a modal shift away from public transport, for congestion in both town centres and across Richmond Bridge and consequently also for the reliability of other bus routes.

ii) 493 – At present this route assists a significant population cluster around the A316 who need to visit the hospitals at Tooting and Roehampton. If the service to Manor Circus is withdrawn as suggested then TfL is expecting potentially less able residents to transfer buses and/or walk substantially greater distances to connect with an essential service. The Hopper Fare cannot be guaranteed in perpetuity and does not mitigate against the added difficulty while breaking a journey to transfer buses will never represent a better service.

iii) 419 – Incorporating this service into a substantially lengthened route 110 is a concern if the extended journey time negatively affects service reliability. However, the proposed routing via Chertsey and Whitton Roads is very welcome, not least because it simplifies the ability of Richmond students to reach the new Richmond upon Thames School on A316. However, Richmond residents travelling to and from West Middlesex Hospital will get a worse service.

iv) 371 – Although not part of this consultation, it is worth reiterating requests for this route to connect with Kingston Hospital. This becomes even more pertinent if travel to other hospitals is more difficult.

3) Existing service deficiencies are not addressed

These proposals do not address the poor bus service currently offered along the Lower Richmond Road (i.e. between Manor Circus and Mortlake). This existing service deficiency will become more acute once the large Stag Brewery development and secondary school are built in Mortlake.

We support the representations to extend the 219 bus service from the Avondale Road terminus, past the Stag Brewery site and Chalker’s corner either to Kew Retail Park (itself also due to be redeveloped for housing), or to Richmond. The Mortlake school is planned to serve students living in Kew and North Richmond and they will need a much improved bus service between these areas.

In summary the Richmond Society does not support curtailing existing services. We do not consider that this meets TfL’s stated objectives of providing a better bus service by improving the experience for customers, or in supporting housing growth.