Thanks to Linda Green for this guest post outlining how the changes to the 223 bus route will affect residents' and school children's public transport.
Last year TFL decided that it would change a large number of bus services throughout London, because of 'The Elizabeth Line', which will not come to Brent. This included cutting the 223 bus that goes from Wembley to Harrow via the Preston Park area. Instead of going to Harrow it will terminate outside Northwick Park hospital.
As I heard a rumour about it I tried searching TFL's website, but couldn't find anything until a friend sent me a link.
I asked on the bus, and the driver said 'they plan something this week then next week they change it'. At Harrow bus station I asked for information but they didn't have any. I wrote to TFL and asked for copies of the consultation documents to be sent to the library, as lots of the 223 users don't have the internet and don't have any information. They did not reply.
Apparently there was a note about this in Metro. There was no information put in buses, and nothing put in Harrow bus station and nothing put up in bus stops. If you live in the Preston area, and your main use of public transport is the 223 or other local buses, you do not see Metro and hence have no way of knowing that the consultation was taking place.
The issues affecting local people are:
· Many residents of Wembley, Preston and Kenton see Harrow as their main shopping area, and use the 223 to get there. They also go to Harrow for entertainment, such as cinemas and restaurants. They do not want to change at Northwick Park.
· It is the only bus service at all for many residents, and for many it is too far to either walk to the tube station, or to manage the large number of steps at the stations, especially if they have heavy bags of shopping or babies in pushchairs.
· It would be especially stressful and difficult for elderly and disabled people and parents to have to get themselves and their shopping off the bus to wait for another one at Northwick Park, where there are no facilities, shelter from the weather or proper seats.
· It would be unpleasant to wait at Northwick Park in the dark. It is very creepy at night and people would feel vulnerable. All there is are two bus stops and a grassy area with trees.
· Many children and young people use the route to go to and from school in Harrow. They get on at Harrow bus station and get off all through from Woodcock Hill, Kenton, Preston and later stops through to Wembley and Wembley Park. Many Brent sixth-formers get the 223 to Harrow bus station then change to other buses to go to Harrow Weald College and other Harrow high schools. In future they would need to get three buses. I doubt if the pupils and students know that their transport to school and college is about to be cut.
· Young people go to pubs and clubs in Harrow then get the last 223 back to the Preston Park area as well as to the Avenue and Wembley Park. They would risk missing another last bus from Northwick Park hospital and be vulnerable waiting there or having to walk back.
· A whole range of people goes to Harrow to visit the cinema and restaurants, and will have similar problems to the young people mentioned above.
· The 223 is hail and ride for much of the route, so that people can get off near their homes. For this reason people who have disabilities or who feel vulnerable like to use this bus. It means that it is easier than using the tube.
· The bus is also the cheaper option compared with the tube.
· Many of Preston Community Library's volunteers and members use this bus to visit the library.
Personally, I would stop going to the cinema and restaurants at Harrow if there were no bus home at night. I would not feel safe waiting in the dark, rain or snow by the hospital. Also, after I have walked around shopping etc I seldom have the strength left to climb the steps into Harrow tube station or the steps inside Preston Road station.
Residents can make a complaint via London Travel Watch: http://www.londontravelwatch.org.uk/complaints/
They could also write to Navin Shah, the London Assembly member for Brent and Harrow, or to their MP or the London Mayor. Copy in your local councillors.
When complaining do emphasize that the consultation was a sham, and that users of the bus mostly knew nothing about the proposals at all. 'Tell them how it affects you personally.
Other bus routes will be affected also, so it is worth contacting TFL to see if there are other cuts which affect you.
TfL consultation response HERE