Bexley locals ‘miffed’ at missing out on Superloop London buses and say ‘we’re considered a backwater’

By Staff

Villagers have spoken of their disappointment at missing out on Superloop London buses. Those living in Bexley also say they are having to pay up after the capital’s ULEZ was expanded to include the area by Sadiq Khan in August – paying as much as £237 in a month.

Officials explained in their response to a public consultation over the planned route for the SL3 ‘express’ service between Bromley and Thamesmead that it was identified that the bus could not make a turning manoeuvre. TfL said in documents: “Consequently, we will operate the route via Bexley Village southbound only but [buses] will not stop.”

Barbara Russell, 75, has lived in Bexley since 1967. She said whilst sitting in Greys Tea and Coffee House: “Our train service has always been known as the ‘misery line’ because it’s never been any good. If it [a Superloop service] stopped at the memorial, it would be absolutely wonderful.”

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On TfL’s claim that buses could not make a turning in the area, Ms Russell added: “I don’t know what they’re talking about – it’s only the turning into Hurst Road. That’s the only one I can think they’re talking about, and all the other buses manage it.”

She added that the village can feel a bit forgotten. Ms Russell said: “I think we’re considered a backwater. Our major problem is if there’s a problem on the A2, then it call comes through Bexley. And then Bourne Road gets blocked and that actually blocks three routes.”

Commuters ‘would benefit from another Elizabeth line connection’

A 56-year-old woman, who was also sitting in Greys and did not wish to provide her name, said that the Superloop would make a huge difference to her husband’s commute to work. She said: “Why can’t they stop on the Hurst Road? All you’d have to do is stop at the 269 bus stop and you won’t be going out your way.”

Currently, the two and a half year long Bexley resident claimed it takes him an hour and a half to get to Stepney Green. But, if a Superloop service were able to take him to Abbey Wood Elizabeth line station, it would take him 45 minutes. She added: “The Superloop is a great idea but you’re still sitting in the traffic anyway.

“It would be beneficial in terms of giving us additional routes to get to work. I think we’re quite luckily with the buses, but it’s only the 229 that goes to Abbey Wood. In terms of that, you’re a bit stuck.”

Ali Segin, 23, works at Master Fryer, a fish and chip shop in the high street. The family business has been around since 1966, and the building has functioned as a chippy since the 1880s. He said: “Honestly, Bexley feels a bit underdeveloped. It’s like a little village that’s slowly being forgotten about over time.”

Mr Segin added that missing out on the Superloop is ‘one of many things’ that makes him feel that way. Mujdat Segin, 36, added that another problem the business faces is ‘a lot of traffic’ in the area – especially when there are road works.

He described it as ‘chaos’ as fewer customers manage to make it to the shop. Mr Segin added: “We get a lot of customers from Bexley park area when you get traffic and roadworks no one gets to come.” He added that the business therefore misses out on ‘at least £200 to £300 a day’.

David Chapman, 75, a retired maintenance worker, has lived in Bexley for two decades. He had never heard of the Superloop, but thinks it would be good for the area. Mr Chapman said: “Buses are buses – they should be going everywhere, should they not?

“I’m retired now, so what else have I got? I use them to go whenever I need to go. I use the train now and again, but mainly buses.”

Clive Burn, 70, said: “Anything that brings another bus service into the village, especially with the ULEZ being here, must be a good idea.” The CCTV and intruder alarm installer added that people have taken to parking their non-compliant vehicles outside that have ‘not moved for days upon days upon days’ to save paying the £12.50 charge.

‘ULEZ took £237.50 off me in a month’

Mr Burn said: “This partially month, ULEZ took off me £237.50. The scrappage scheme doesn’t help me at all. It prevents me from doing ordinary, every day things.” Asked if he could replace his van, he replied: “It’s too expensive; I’m too old now. I should be retired, but I like my job. I’m working because I want to.”

Pam James-Ashburner, 84, has lived in the village for between 45 and 50 years. She said: “I have to pay £12.50 to get out of my drive. All of us around here would be effected [by the ULEZ] if we wanted to go to London. I think it’s wicked, really.

“It’s sad for me. I’ve got two very old cars. I’ve got a [1995] Bentley and [1996] Daimler […] It’s [the 12.50 charge] a bit naughty, isn’t it?”

Ms James-Ashburner added that before the ULEZ expansion, she used to drive to the local shop, her son’s house in the Cotswolds and her daughter’s. She said: “It’s really sad for my age groups they can really ruin your life when you get older. The important thing is I can get on Elizabeth line all the way to my London flat [opposite Hyde Park].

“I think that’s wonderful that we have that [TfL] concession. Since my husband died one year ago, I’ve been making the most of going on the public transport.”

TfL’s responses

Tom Cunnington, TfL’s Head of Buses Business Development, said: “Buses are a central part of our transport system and we’re always looking at how we can improve and adapt the bus network to make it better for everyone. Southbound SL3 buses are passing through Bexley Village temporarily as works are required to allow for the more direct routeing via Penhill Road between Bexleyheath and Sidcup and route 269 will continue to serve Bexley Village providing links to Bromley, Sidcup and Bexleyheath.

“While it has not been possible to include a stop in Bexley on the Superloop network so far, we will continue to monitor and review all Superloop routes to get a full understanding of how customers are using the new network, working with local councils, including Bexley Council, to improve the bus network across the capital.”

Regarding locals’ concerns about the expansion of the ULEZ, a TfL spokesperson added: “London has made significant progress over the last six years in improving air quality, but it sadly remains the case that thousands of Londoners die prematurely each year as a result of toxic pollution. The London-wide ULEZ is vital in tackling the triple challenges of air pollution, the climate emergency and congestion, and will help millions more people breathe cleaner air. The latest data shows that more than 95 per cent of vehicles seen driving in the zone on an average day are already compliant.

“We are proud of London’s comprehensive public transport system, which in all parts of London includes extensive local bus networks. Across the capital 95 per cent of Londoners live within 400 metres of a bus stop. This complements the national rail network in Bexley, which caters for longer journeys.

“The mayor has launched London’s biggest ever scrappage scheme, worth £210m, in order to support Londoners and the capital’s smaller businesses, sole traders and charities in replacing their older, more polluting vehicles with greener options. The scrappage scheme allows small businesses and sole traders to scrap or retrofit up to three vans or minibuses at no extra cost. The mayor wants to help as many Londoners as possible make the transition to cleaner ways to get around the city and continues to urge Government to help those outside of the capital.”

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