Fears for Londoners’ Safety as Data Shows London Buses Facing Axe Now Carrying More Passengers than Pre-Pandemic Levels

A Southwark Liberal Democrat Freedom of Information (FOI) request revealed on Thursday that the usage of some bus routes that TfL plans to axe are close to or have surpassed pre-pandemic levels.

  • Passengers on threatened N12 are now up over 30% on pre-covid levels
  • Most recent figures show usage across proposed cuts is up 6% on 2019
  • Calls into question TfL’s “dodgy statistics”


The FOI data, which covers late February to the end of May in 2019 and 2022, tracks the number of passengers on the sixteen routes that TfL has proposed to axe.

It showed that average weekly passenger numbers across all of these routes increased from 65% to 106% of pre-pandemic levels from late February to the end of May in 2022.

The Liberal Democrat figures showed twelve out of thirteen weeks in the 2022 period were at least, on average, 70% of pre-pandemic bus usage on aforementioned routes in 2019.

Three of these routes are 24-hour routes, including the 12 that serves Southwark.

Passenger numbers for the 12 between 00:00 and 05:00 were consistently over 100% of pre-pandemic levels, reaching over 130% between 23rd and 29th May 2022.

This information calls into question TfL’s statement in its consultation on the bus cuts that customer numbers are significantly below pre-pandemic levels.

TfL officials also admitted at a Southwark Council Overview and Scrutiny Committee (OSC) meeting that cutting some routes will increase the need for interchanges.

These increased interchanges will pose barriers to travel for residents with limited mobility and will reduce safety for passengers, especially for those travelling at night.

Commenting, Cllr Victor Chamberlain, Southwark Liberal Democrat Group Leader said:

“These shocking figures show that Sadiq Khan’s plans are as reckless as they seem. The Mayor and TfL are proposing to axe vital public services based on dodgy statistics. Cutting these routes is a betrayal of all the Londoners who rely on them.

“Southwark bus usage is 80% of pre-covid levels as residents are now regularly relying on our buses again. Across London, it’s regularly close to 90% usage. Sadiq is damaging our covid recovery.

“The figures, which the Liberal Democrats have obtained, show Sadiq Khan’s cuts are going to make Londoners less safe. This data makes it clear how many key workers, women, LGBTQ+ and vulnerable people rely on our night buses (where passenger numbers have recovered most strongly). The removal of route 12 will leave many struggling to access work and Central London.”


Contact Pavle Popovic on +442075250451 for more information.  


  1. To see the FOI click here.