Total London bus miles cut by 22 million in six years

The Liberal Democrats has raised fears about declining bus services (PA Media)
The Liberal Democrats has raised fears about declining bus services (PA Media)

The number of miles covered by London buses has been cut by 22 million in six years, new figures show.

Research commissioned by the Liberal Democrats has revealed that since 2017, the first full year that Sadiq Khan was Mayor of London, the number of miles driven by bus services has reduced from an all-time peak of 304 million to 282 million in 2023.

The data also showed there had been a cut of 10 million bus miles from 2022 to 2023, worsening fears about declining London bus services.

‌In 2017 1403 buses were taken out of operation reducing the Transport for London (TfL) fleet from 10,191 to 8,788 vehicles.

The Liberal Democrats have accused Mr Khan of ignoring outer boroughs, including Richmond, Sutton, Merton and Kingston, where routes such as the 213, 57, and 533 have previously been cut.

Last year the mayor introduced the Superloop, a series of new bus routes designed to link town centres, transport hubs and hospitals - which together form a circle through the capital’s suburbs.

The first sections of the loop are already in action and Mr Khan has said the routes were a “game changer”.

Eventually there will be 10 Superloop routes – seven orbital sections and three “spokes” linking the suburbs with central London.

Nine sections will be running by next April, including the SL2 between Walthamstow Central and North Woolwich, the SL3 between Thamesmead and Bromley and the SL5 between Bromley and Croydon.

The orbital route is part of a £6m investment in outer London bus travel.

But critics say the Superloop will only boost capacity by less than one per cent, in terms of its city-wide impact.

The Liberal Democrats are calling for a London-wide review of bus coverage to ensure outer London boroughs are not cut off, and have launched a petition against further bus cuts.

‌Richmond Park MP Sarah Olney said: “These figures are yet more evidence that the Mayor doesn’t care about outer London and is only worried about his bottom line.

“Through his chopping of routes such as the 213 and 57, the mayor has cut crucial routes for commuters and school kids.

“It’s not just Sadiq Khan though, TfL’s been put in this position by this Conservative Government’s constant bickering over renewed funding settlements.

“Our outer London communities are all suffering because the Conservatives have turned our trains and buses into a political football.”

A spokesperson for the mayor said: “The mayor has done everything in his powers to protect bus services across the capital, despite punitive funding conditions from central government.

“The Superloop is now transforming travel in outer London, adding over four million extra bus kilometres to the network alone. It will continue to offer more options for Londoners as the final two routes of the orbital loop will launch in the coming weeks.

“Government cuts and the requirements of the recent short-term funding deal meant that some bus routes were cut in recent years. Despite this, Sadiq stepped in and provided an additional £25 million every year to save the majority of bus routes that were proposed to be cut in central and inner London in 2022.

“The mayor has added over one million annual kilometres to the network in 2023 alone.

“Sadiq has also introduced the Hopper fare to make the bus network more affordable for millions of journeys, while investing in greening London’s bus fleet to make it one of the greenest in the world.”

‌TfL has been contacted for comment.