TfL to cut night bus service on route 53 – despite arrival of Night Overground at New Cross Gate

Route 53 bus in Whitehall
Route 53 will be a rarer sight at night from 20 January

Transport for London is to reduce night services on bus route 53, which runs from Whitehall to Plumstead via the Old Kent Road, New Cross, Blackheath, Charlton and Woolwich.

From 20 January, all-night services will run every 30 minutes from Sundays to Thursdays, and every 15 minutes at weekends. The night 53 service currently run every 20 minutes during the week and every 12 minutes at weekends. Daytime services are unaffected.

TfL says the change is “to match demand”. Passenger numbers on the night service have fallen from a peak of 447,000 in 2013/14 to 405,000 in 2016/17.

Night routes have also been hit by competition from minicab app Uber, which offers heavily subsidised fares while it builds up market share.

TfL’s finances are being squeezed by central government scrapping its grant funding as well as mayor Sadiq Khan freezing some fares until 2020.

The neighbouring N89 service was also trimmed back last month.

The change will badly hit those who depend on the all-night service to get to and from work as well as people coming back from nights out in central London.

It will also make it harder for those who live on the 53 route to take advantage of the Night Overground rail service, which began running between Dalston Junction and New Cross Gate earlier this month. Mayor Sadiq Khan said the weekend service would “help thousands more who are working through the night or out enjoying our capital’s nightlife”.

Many London routes, both and day and night, have been cut back as TfL grapples with its financial problems. Other cuts planned in south-east London in coming weeks affect the 484 service which runs through Brockley and the 269 between Bexleyheath and Bromley.

Local London Assembly member Len Duvall has asked Khan for details of which other routes in Greenwich and Lewisham will be cut. He is still waiting for a response.

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