Leytonstone News

Plans to reroute 56 bus ‘totally unacceptable’, say campaigners

The bus currently travels directly from Whipps Cross to Barts Hospital in central London
By Local Democracy Reporter Josh Mellor

(Credit: TfL)
(Credit: TfL)

Plans to reroute a bus travelling from Whipps Cross to Barts Hospital in central London have been branded ”totally unacceptable” by health campaigners.

At present, the 56 bus route runs past Leytonstone’s Whipps Cross Hospital and along Lea Bridge Road before terminating at the entrance of St Bartholomew’s Hospital, known as Barts, in central London.

As part of funding negotiations with the government, Transport for London (TfL) is proposing to move the 56 terminus to Blackfriars to replace part of the 4 bus route that could be axed completely.

Residents, campaigner group Action 4 Whipps and Lea Bridge councillor Gerry Lyons have all warned this will cause suffering for patients, as NHS trust Barts Health regularly transfers people between Whipps Cross and Barts.

Lea Bridge resident Claire Weiss said patients travelling to Barts will have to get off at nearby Aldersgate Street, which lacks a pedestrian crossing, and navigate back streets 300m to the hospital’s rear entrance.

She added TfL appears not to have “not taken into account” the link between the two hospitals.

She told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “The TfL planner admitted that they hadn’t taken into account that Barts is a group hospital for Waltham Forest residents and that people are referred there for treatments for serious conditions not available at Whipps.

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“Such treatment is often done on a day-care basis so getting rid of the direct bus stop outside Barts is totally unacceptable.

“People in that situation do not need to be faced with changing buses or walking long distances and crossing main roads.”

TfL consultation documents estimate that 840 people a day travel to Barts, although its spokesperson has since claimed “around five” passengers a day travel between the two hospitals.

Their spokesperson pointed out that the proposed stops remain a short distance from Barts and that patients taking the 56 to or from Whipps Cross already have to walk a similar distance.

Other downsides of the changes include the proposed northbound bus stop that lacks any shelter, seat or countdown display screen.

No decision has yet been made and TfL, which remains in “intense discussions” with the government over its funding, closed the consultation on 7th August.

The hospitals’ trust Barts Health says it has not provided feedback to TfL as it was “not consulted” on the changes.

The spokesperson added that dedicated transport between the hospitals is available for “eligible patients”.

TfL’s director of public transport service planning Geoff Hobbs, said the reliance on passenger fares for income means the pandemic has had a “devastating” effect on its finances.

He added: “We have carefully studied our network in order to only propose changes to areas that are well served by other routes already or would be after re-structuring other routes as part of this proposal.”

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