TfL London bus route plans leave elderly people ‘in tears’ as they ‘won’t be able to see friends’

By Staff

Elderly residents of a pretty East London village have been left in tears and say they would be isolated if TfL goes ahead with a plan to reroute a bus route. Officials plan to take W12 services – which currently call twice per hour – away from Walthamstow Village, meaning some residents would have to walk a greater distance to stops.

For those of a certain age and with mobility issues, villagers told MyLondon this would be too much. There are already restrictions on traffic during school drop-off and pick-up times in some streets, which mean some would not be able to use their private cars instead of buses.

Consequently, vulnerable residents would be unable to visit friends, go to hospital appointments or go to the market, critics of the proposal say. This includes gatherings for seniors at the Waltham Forest Community Hub in Orford Road.

READ MORE: London buses to replace some Underground trains this weekend including Night Tube

A lot of those, some living in sheltered housing, who depend on these sessions for social contact, use the W12 to attend. They have been left deeply upset by the prospect of service changes.

Tommy Anderson, 68, a retired dustman of 30 years, has lived locally for 25 years. He said: “I use it six days a week. I catch it from Cobham Mill to come through to the village and the hospital. I think it’ll impact residents dearly.

“A lot of residents are elderly and not mobile [it would] give them a bit of a walk. It’s going to be too much for them. I would struggle because I’ve got metal plates in my legs.”

‘I shall be dead in a chair at home with the dogs trying to eat me’

Irena Chudzio, who used to work in facilities management, did not wish to provide her age. She has attended the senior club since 2019. Ms Chudzio told MyLondon:If it’s a raining or windy day, I won’t want to come. If you’re short and fat with arthritis, it’s a 15-minute walk which I won’t manage carrying an umbrella and shopping trolley.

“I shall be dead in a chair at home with the dogs trying to eat me.” She added that the rerouting of services would mean less activity and possibly loneliness and isolation, ‘all the things you’d expect [of] people unemployed or home based’.

Rita Buttifant, 82, joked that she used to be a ‘drug dealer’ as a pharmacy assistant manager at Whips Cross Hospital – where locals fear they would not be able to get to. She uses the W12 ‘nearly every other day’. Ms Buttifant added: “It’s to go the market and also hospital appointments.

“But if the W12 is stopped, the people that go to the hospital, it means we have to walk […] If it’s an earlier appointment and it’s school term time, then buses are the only transport that can go down Addison Road. It’s the same in the afternoon.

“If the weather’s bad, I’m ok, I can walk. But people with sticks and shopping trollies walking through the church – you don’t always feel safe. There are also uneven pavements. I have seen some care workers use the W12 to get to their patients, it would put a longer journey onto them.”

‘They want to get off their backsides and come and see what impacts it has’

She then said: “Sometimes I think they [TfL] want to get off their backsides and come and see what impacts it has on people.”

Jenny Demir, 72, a retired pre-school assistant has lived in the area for 28 years. She said: “I do use it a lot – I have to now because of the ULEZ. I can’t use my car, it’s 12.50 a day. They want me to use the buses and now they’re taking the bus away, which I don’t think is on.

“A lot of people use the bus. I get on at the end of my road […] They even closed off my road in the morning for the schools, so you have to catch the bus around. Taxis can’t come down there.”

Mercedes Edwards, 69, a retired care worker, added: “It’s out of order […] If you go into the clubs they are almost crying in there. A lot of them take it to the social. I take it myself when I’m coming down here to visit my friend. They’re definitely stuck.

‘It’s unfair and wicked’

Ms Edwards added: “I use it as often as I can […] Some of them take the bus to come to the club. I had a friend saying to me they will have to go all the way back to [Walthamstow] Central – it’s not fair. It’s wicked. Khan and TfL want to walk down here themselves.”

Sonita Turner, who is in her 40s, is the community hub’s administrator. She said: “Everyone’s up in arms about it. The most important people that it affects from our experience is these guys, the seniors. When they come in this lunch club and bingo, it’s everything to them.

“At least half of them use the W12 to come in, the rest use dial-a-ride. They may not be able to come back – it leaves them isolated.” Ms Turner described the sessions as a ‘befriending service’ during the pandemic. Every Thursday, residents enjoy a lunch club, tea and coffee, and bingo. This has been going for over a decade.

However, Charlotte Heathcote, 49, said that TfL’s plan make sense because some roads are traffic-free during school drop off and pick up times, and so some are ‘often taken by surprise by the bus’. This includes kids ‘roaming’.

Ms Heathcote said: “It makes absolute sense to me. But I’m not elderly. I don’t feel actually that there are many elderly people in the area. Of course this is anecdotal and not based on any head count.”

TfL addresses concerns in consultation

MyLondon approached TfL but was told that officials could not comment further than what was included in public consultation documents due to the authority being in its pre-election period. The authority says it has undertaken an initial Equality Impact Assessment (EqIA) for its plan.

Officials say in TfL’s report on residents’ concerns: “The most frequent comment we received was general across the range of proposals and highlighted concerns that proposals may discriminate against the elderly, disabled, vulnerable and less mobile.

“We have committed to monitoring the effects of any changes we may introduce. The next two most frequent comments related to concern at proposed bus frequency reduction for route W14 and the proposed changes to the W12 bus route.”

Papers added: “The proposals improve the access to Whipps Cross Hospital by providing a more frequent, simple and extensive routeing. It is estimated that up to 700 trips per day will require interchanging and 100 trips per day will have a lower frequency as a result of these proposals.

“This represents approximately 11% of existing trips made on routes W12 and W14. While we acknowledge that some passengers will be more impacted, most passengers will actually benefit from improved frequency and new connections […] We will monitor the impact of these changes.”

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