Sadiq Khan accused of ‘cultural vandalism’ as he presses ahead with changes to 11 bus route

MP Greg Hands with the 11 bus  (Greg Hands/Twitter)
MP Greg Hands with the 11 bus (Greg Hands/Twitter)

Sadiq Khan was on Wednesday accused of “cultural vandalism” as he pressed ahead with plans to change one of London’s “iconic” bus routes.

Tory MPs said the shortening of the 11 route, which links Fulham and Liverpool Street via Parliament Square, Trafalgar Square and St Paul’s, would remove a vital link for Londoners and tourists.

Transport for London plans to “restructure” the route on April 29, effectively “chopping off” its eastern section by diverting it from Parliament Square south of the river to Waterloo.

Greg Hands, the MP for Chelsea and Fulham and Tory party chairman, said: “Curtailing the number 11 bus route is public transport and cultural vandalism from Mayor Khan.

“It’s been the iconic London route for 117 years, taking Londoners and visitors between the city’s great attractions, including Westminster Abbey, Parliament, Trafalgar Square, St Paul’s and the King’s Road.

“To chop this just a week before hundreds of thousands come to London for the Coronation shows our mayor has lost his way completely.”

Nickie Aiken, the Tory MP for the Cities of London and Westminster, also expressed dismay that the changes would be imposed ahead of the King’s coronation at Westminster Abbey on May 6.

She said Visit London, the mayor’s tourism agency, had recently promoted the 11 bus as “one of the best ways to take in all the iconic sights” – though it later deleted the tweet.

Ms Aiken said the 11 was the only bus that directly connected Westminster and the Square Mile and added: “Even Visit London believes this iconic route is an important tourist attraction.”

It is also understood that Mr Khan will come under further pressure from the City of London Corporation to retain the full route. A letter is due to be sent to the mayor from Chris Hayward, the City’s policy chairman.

The re-routing of the 11 was one of a series of changes proposed in TfL’s central London bus review last summer.

This proposed axing 22 routes and reducing the frequency or length of almost 50 more to save money.

But Mr Khan performed a partial U-turn last November and decided to user £25m a year of City Hall reserves to keep more buses running.

However, TfL has now written to MPs and stakeholders to say the changes to the 11 will go ahead next month.

This will also involve the re-routing of the 26 from Hackney, which will no longer go south of the river to Waterloo but will be redirected along the Strand and Whitehall to Victoria.

TfL said passengers currently using the 11 between Victoria and Liverpool Street can switch to the 26.

Plans to reroute the 211, which currently links Hammersmith and Waterloo, to Battersea Power Station – which would mean it no longer served Victoria, Westminster and St Thomas’s Hospital – have been put on hold.

TfL has been approached for comment.