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Plea to mayor to restore the 25 bus to Oxford Circus cut short by TfL

PUBLISHED: 12:00 04 March 2019 | UPDATED: 12:56 04 March 2019

The 25 that used to run direct to Oxford Circus from east London. Picture: Save Our Buses campaign

The 25 that used to run direct to Oxford Circus from east London. Picture: Save Our Buses campaign

SOB

Furious campaigners have asked the Mayor of London to step in and get TfL to restore the 25 bus service to its full route from east London to Oxford Circus.

Two buses on the 25 route for Oxford Circus arriving together along Bow Road at Thames Magistrates Court. Picture: GoogleTwo buses on the 25 route for Oxford Circus arriving together along Bow Road at Thames Magistrates Court. Picture: Google

They have sent a demand to Sadiq Khan this week to get the full service brought back that runs from Ilford, Stratford, Mile End and Whitechapel through the City to Oxford Circus—which has been shortened by TfL to end at Holborn.

Passengers from east London who can’t use the Underground no longer have direct ‘step free’ public transport to Oxford Circus, but now have to change buses twice.

“It’s not acceptable for TfL to remove ‘step free’ transport,” campaign coordinator John Darnell insisted. “We’re worried about vulnerable passengers. TfL may have indirectly discriminated against those who rely on ‘step free’ access.”

TfL cut short the 25 route on the December 1, axing the link to Oxford Circus which campaigners say has hit the “those with the greatest access needs”.

The pressure group is calling on the Mayor to “take swift action”. The Central line at Mile End and Bethnal Green doesn’t have full ‘step free’ access, campaigners point out, while restoring the 25 bus to Oxford Circus would help reduce the overcrowded tube.

Cutting short the 25 route was “intended as a temporary measure”. Yet the change would add pressure to the Central Line and “cause significant inconveniences to regular users”, City Hall transport bosses admitted in a letter to the campaigners.

“Not all changes we make will satisfy all our passengers,” the letter said. “These changes were made to improve reliability, as most buses will now have a shorter distance to travel when running empty between journeys.”

The move was aimed at improving “the reliability for passengers” with passenger numbers to Oxford Circus expected to fall when Crossrail’s Elizabeth line opens later this year—London’s new ‘super tube’ to Heathrow Airport through east London and the West End does have full ‘step free’ access.

But meantime, the campaigners monitored the 25 service before December’s cut and found buses “running with capacity loads to Oxford Circus”. They are now calling for the mayor to restore “the popular East End link”.

The 25 route has had a chequered past, having been at the centre of a public outcry when it was shortened the first time to stop at Oxford Circus instead of Marble Arch and beyond.

It was also one of the routes where the controversial single-decker ‘bendy’ buses introduced by Ken Livingtone had to be scrapped for public safety. The route went back to double-decker diesels, but in 2017 the London Assembly’s Unmesh Desai, whose east London constituency includes the 25 route, called for the buses to be withdrawn and replaced with cleaner-emission vehicles.

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