Decision Maker Response
Boris Johnson’s response
Jun 11, 2015 — Dear Petitioner,
Thank you for the petition submitted on the Change.org website calling for Transport for London (TfL) to reinstate a normal service for bus route 53.
As the petition notes, major road works on Bridge Street in Westminster necessitated a temporary cut back of route 53 during the day since January. Since then, the route has been stopping short of its normal destination, with its final stop at Lower Marsh on Westminster Bridge Road before turning around at County Hall.
When a bus route diversion is necessary, TfL tries to minimise the inconvenience caused to passengers by, for example, following the original route as closely as possible. On this occasion, given the extensiveness of the works and the availability of interchange with other bus routes, TfL decided to cut the route short of its usual destination. The diversion was publicised to inform passengers of this, including emailing regular users of the bus route and posting detailed information about the diversion at affected stops.
While the works at Bridge Street are now complete, further works along the route have started, including at Elephant & Castle and for the Lewisham Gateway scheme, which have significantly impacted the reliability of the route. After reviewing the situation, TfL decided that the most suitable solution was to retain the temporary turnaround point at County Hall. This will help TfL run a reliable service for the majority of passengers between Plumstead and Westminster Bridge Road where the route continues to operate.
The Mayor and TfL fully appreciate that some passengers will be inconvenienced by this decision and apologise for this disruption to their journeys. As mentioned in the petition update, passengers who paid for their journeys using their Oyster card or contactless payment card can request a transfer ticket to ensure that they are not penalised. A transfer ticket is valid for one hour and can be used to interchange onto an alternative bus route. This includes bus routes 12, 159 and 453 that operate very frequently – up to a combined 35 buses per hour during the peak period – between Westminster Bridge Road and Whitehall. TfL has asked the operator for route 53 to remind all drivers that they should always provide transfer tickets to passengers who request them. It has also emailed passengers with registered Oysters to inform them of this facility.
The first phase of the Lewisham Gateway works will be complete in spring 2016 and the works at Elephant & Castle are due to be completed in summer 2016. However, TfL will continue to monitor the situation frequently, and should it find that conditions for buses have improved, it will look to extend the route back to Whitehall as soon as possible.
Public Liaison Officer
Greater London Authority