TfL bus cuts: Route 486 to North Greenwich to be less frequent from 23 February

Route 486
Route 486 was used for 4.5 million journeys last financial year

Transport for London has confirmed plans to reduce the frequency of bus route 486, which links Charlton with North Greenwich station.

From Saturday 23 February, the service – which is frequently full to standing and suffers from buses terminating early – will run every 10 minutes during weekday daytimes and every 12 minutes on Saturdays, instead of every eight minutes as now.

However, TfL has told The Charlton Champion that it will increase frequencies on busier weekday morning journeys.

TfL confirmed full details about the changes on Tuesday afternoon:

  • Introduction of two journeys during Monday to Friday morning peak hours from Bexleyheath to North Greenwich, increasing the frequency from 7.5 to 8 buses per hour during the busiest hour in the morning peak
  • Reduction of Monday to Friday daytime frequency from every 8 minutes to every 10 minutes (7.5 to 6 buses per hour)
  • Reduction of Saturday daytime frequency from every 8 minutes to every 12 minutes (7.5 to 5 buses per hour)
  • Reduction of Sunday and evening frequency from every 12 minutes to every 15 minutes (5 to 4 buses per hour)
  • There is no change to the weekend–only night service at this time

The news, first revealed in a bus enthusiasts’ newsletter published last week, comes just days before the east Greenwich Ikea opens on the route, with a planning agreement compelling to the furniture giant to advise customers to take public transport.

It also comes as mayor Sadiq Khan – who is also chairman of TfL – is poised to approve plans for 771 new homes from developer Rockwell off Anchor and Hope Lane, also on the 486 route.

A proposal to scrap the weekend overnight service on the route – which meets Night Tube trains on the Jubilee Line – is on hold, the London Omnibus Traction Society reported.

Financial problems at TfL

There has been no consultation on the cut, which is part of a new contract for bus company Go-Ahead London to run the service. Currently, the route – between North Greenwich station and Bexleyheath shopping centre – is run with 16 vehicles at peak times. The new contract specifies just 14 buses.

In 2017/18 the route saw 4.5m passengers – the most since its inception in 2001. While North Greenwich station is the major destination for many passengers, it is also well used for the Charlton retail parks, Charlton station and Queen Elizabeth Hospital. It also serves the massive new St Mary Magdalene school on Greenwich Peninsula.

The frequency cut is the latest in a number of planned cutbacks to local bus services. Last year, this website revealed plans to trim route 53 back from Whitehall to Lambeth North, while route 180 is due to be rerouted from Lewisham to North Greenwich when Crossrail opens, slashing the number of buses between Woolwich and Greenwich town centres. Route 472, another North Greenwich service, is also due to suffer a service reduction at the same time.

TfL’s director of public transport service planning, Geoff Hobbs, told The Charlton Champion on Monday: “We constantly review and reorganise the bus network to modernise bus travel in London. This makes sure that Londoners’ fares are efficiently used with buses serving areas they are needed most and reduces bus-on-bus congestion.

“The changes to the frequency of route 486 reflect its varied demand during different parts of the day and week. We are increasing frequencies to the busiest weekday morning journeys to respond to the higher demand and are reducing its frequency when there is less demand. This will ensure our network is efficiently run and that buses are running where they are needed most.”

“We are aware of new developments in the area and are always reviewing our services to adapt to changes and, if needed, we will make further changes accordingly.“

TfL is currently facing a financial crisis on three fronts. It is primarily caused by the loss of its grant, signed off by previous mayor Boris Johnson, but has also lost some income because of current mayor Sadiq Khan’s partial fare freeze and the ongoing delay in finishing Crossrail.


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Weekend night buses on route 486 get set to start

Bus route 486
The Night Tube might have been delayed, but bus route 486 still gains a night service this weekend, with buses every 30 minutes between North Greenwich, Charlton, Shooters Hill and Bexleyheath.

Services will run through the small hours of Saturday and Sunday mornings, with the eventual aim of connecting with the weekend Night Tube at North Greenwich.

A new weekend service on the 132 at North Greenwich will also start this weekend, serving Sun-in-the-Sands roundabout. Routes 108, 188 and 472 already run to North Greenwich every night of the week.

TfL said 86% of respondents to its consultation who expressed an opinion supported a night service on the 486, with many responses “from the Charlton area, particularly around Charlton Church Lane”. 

When asked for more detailed views, 18 people said it should be more frequent while 11 claimed the service was “not needed”. There were nine complaints about noise from buses and two claiming the road was too narrow (presumably this refers to Charlton Church Lane).
Plans to cut the weekend service on route N1 from three buses an hour to two appear to have vanished, although it’s unclear if the proposal has been junked for good. Of 49 people who expressed detailed opinions, 15 said the N1 should be more frequent.

Other changes in south-east London see the N47 night bus replaced with a 24-hour service on route 47 from Shoreditch to Bellingham, and a new N199 from Trafalgar Square to St Mary Cray, which will replace the small section of N1 which runs through Deptford’s Pepys Estate.

Hallelujah! Extra buses from Charlton to North Greenwich

Charlton station bus stop
Ssssh… extra buses run from here

If you’re sick of the overcrowded morning buses to North Greenwich, then some relief could be at hand – extra services have quietly been thrown on from Charlton station.

Despite various enhancements, route 486 has struggled to cope with rush-hour demand to get from SE7 to the Jubilee Line ever since it was introduced nearly 14 years ago. Some of us more long-in-the-tooth commuters look back wistfully to the brief interlude when fast route M1, the 486’s predecessor, linked Charlton to the Millennium Dome every five minutes – and carried a full load each rush hour.

Now action has quietly been taken – under the guise of adding extra weekday “school journeys” to neighbouring route 472, which are scheduled to start at Charlton station at 7.50am, 8.00am, 8.10am, 8.20am, 8.30am and 8.40am, before heading up the usual route to North Greenwich.

Whether these buses will disappear during school holidays is unclear (how big is demand to get to Millennium Primary School from Charlton station?) considering they now appear in the full timetable, but they’re a welcome addition. If you can time your bus journey to coincide with one of the Jubilee Line trains that start at North Greenwich, you’re in for a winner.

Now, all we need to do is sort out next year’s Thameslink issues on the rails, and the horrific overcrowding of North Greenwich in the evening (oh, and unannounced closures of the busway), and everything could be wonderful.