Route 178
Route 178 was recently converted to double-decker buses for the first time in 24 years

Transport for London has spent over £9,000 on advertisements promoting two Woolwich bus services becoming double deckers – even though other services are being cut back to save money.

A total of £8,283 was spent on poster ads at bus stops at 21 locations along the route of the 178 service from Woolwich to Lewisham announcing that double-deckers were now being used on the service. Ads also appeared at other locations including the Royal Standard at Blackheath and Lewisham High Street.

A further £1,123 was spent on ads for route 291, which runs from Queen Elizabeth Hospital to the Woodlands Estate in Plumstead, according to an answer to a Freedom of Information request submitted by this website.

The two routes were converted to double-decker use in December, in anticipation of the opening of Crossrail, which was due to open that month but is now delayed. The change to the 291 saw double deckers run through the narrow streets of the Woodlands Estate for the first time in over 30 years.

Evening Standard editor George Osborne’s scrapping of TfL’s grant when he was chancellor have combined with Crossrail’s problems, mayor Sadiq Khan’s partial fare freeze and a fall in bus ridership to create financial problems at TfL, with many SE London routes being cut back. Among them is the 89 from Lewisham to Slade Green – which parallels the 178 for part of its route – which was cut in frequency in 2017.

A decision on plans to cut the length of route 53, which links Woolwich and Plumstead with central London, is expected any day.

TfL said the ads were meant to boost awareness of the revamped services.

Chris Macleod, customer director at TfL, said: “We frequently review the bus network to ensure that it serves the areas it is needed most, and to help reach our goal of 80 per cent of journeys being made by bike, foot or public transport.

“The Woolwich area has significantly developed in recent years and its growth will be further supported when the Elizabeth Line launches and through the increased capacity of the 178 and 291. Letting people who travel along the route, such as drivers, know that there is more capacity on the buses will encourage more people to reconsider how they travel.”

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