Route 53
The 53 will still run from Plumstead Common to Lambeth North

Plans to cut the 53 bus back to the Elephant & Castle have been reversed, with the route continuing to run from Plumstead Common to Lambeth North as it does now.

Transport for London had proposed trimming back the service as part of a major package of cuts to help solve its financial crisis, which had been caused by the scrapping of government funding and the effects of the pandemic.

But most of the plan has been scrapped after TfL reached a two-year settlement with the government in August, while mayor Sadiq Khan has found an extra £25m in City Hall funding to keep the buses running.

Plans to cut the 47, which runs from Bellingham to Shoreditch, back to London Bridge have also been abandoned, while a proposal to entirely scrap routes 12 and 78 through Peckham has also been binned.

The 53 ran to Whitehall until June 2019, when the first signs of TfL’s funding crisis led to an initial swathe of cuts to buses – first revealed on this website – and the service was trimmed back to Lambeth North tube station.

At the time, TfL said only 3 per cent of the 53’s passengers would be affected by the cut, but there was a wave of protest about the plan. Today Khan said he was “furious” about the service reductions proposed by the organisation he chairs.

TfL’s financial problems began under the mayoralty of Boris Johnson, when he allowed the Conservative goverment – to scrap its annual grant of about £600 million.

This left TfL – unlike transport operators in other major cities – relying on passenger fares for about half of its income. Johnson’s financial model began to unravel at the end of the 2010s when passenger numbers declined, and it collapsed altogether when the pandemic forced people off the network.

53 bus on Prince Charles Road
There had been a wave of protest against plans to cut the 53

Khan said today: “I was furious on behalf of Londoners that TfL was having to consider reducing the bus network due to conditions attached by the government to the funding deal. The strength of feeling across the capital was clear to me, and I was adamant that I would explore every avenue available to me to save as many buses as possible.

“This will mean tough decisions elsewhere, but I am very pleased that the vast majority of bus routes proposed to be cut due to the government’s funding conditions can now be saved.”

Routes across SE London are now left unscathed, with just one tweak to the C10 from Canada Water to Victoria, which will be amended so it passes Waterloo station.

However, there will still be changes to buses in central and north-west London, including the rerouting of route 11 – once known for serving a host of tourist attractions in the City and Westminster – so it runs between Fulham and Waterloo.

Two buses aimed at commuters – the 507 and 521 – are among four to be cut altogether. Once branded as “Red Arrow” services, the buses were once used by huge numbers of workers, but have become victims to the shift to working from home.

Three major SE London routes – the 1, 21 and 188 – are still set to be altered to fill in for an earlier set of bus cuts, with the 1 due to run from Canada Water to Hampstead Heath, the 21 from Lewisham to Holloway and the 188 from North Greenwich to Tottenham Court Road.

More details on today’s announcement can be found at

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