Good public transport links are essential for the people of Camberwell and Peckham. Without a tube service, buses provide vital connections for local people to access local amenities and travel to work in the area and to other places in London.
One of the main bus routes connecting north and south London is the 343 which runs from Nunhead to London Bridge. It’s a popular commuter bus that serves large residential areas of north Peckham not connected to the underground or overland trains. It is also the main public transport for Camberwell and Peckham residents working in or around London Bridge area. With no underground or tram, commuters have no alternative but to use the bus.
For years there has been a problem with the section of the route that runs from Peckham to the Elephant and Castle which is so congested during the rush hour (8am to 10am) that people have been left waiting from 15 to 40 minutes as full buses drive past without stopping.
It’s a long running problem and Transport for London (TfL) has been reviewing this route since early 2011. But despite numerous complaints from local people and representations from local councillors, our GLA member and myself, the service has not improved. Every day passengers are
repeatedly left at 343 bus stops along Southampton Way, Cottage Green, Wells Way and Thurlow Street route due to overcrowding.
In April 2013, local people, Labour councillors, AM Val Shawcross and myself launched a campaign calling on the Mayor of London and TfL to improve public transport along the 343 bus route, particularly from Southampton Way onwards.
It’s totally unacceptable that people are turned away at the bus stop every day because the buses are too overcrowded to pick them up. And it’s not safe to leave a crowd jostling on a narrow pavement as they worry about not getting to work or school on time. It’s also a problem for elderly people who are left standing for long periods of time, and then get caught in the crush trying to get a seat on the bus.
It is welcome news that TfL has now agreed to add more buses to the route from September 2013. This is a positive sign that TfL is taking the matter seriously but I will continue to monitor the situation to make sure that this vital commuter route does improve for local people.
Southwark and South London have been poorly served by public transport for years. Camberwell and Peckham in particular are growth areas attracting new residents and new housing. Fundamental to the regeneration of this part of London was the promise of a new efficient transport system through the area and across the river to major transport hubs in the north of the city.
When Londoners are benefitting from the investment in transport projects such as Thameslink, the underground upgrades and Crossrail, we must ensure that residents in Camberwell and Peckham also benefit from investment.
Improving the 343 bus route, and bus services across Camberwell and Peckham, would send a clear signal to local people that TfL has been listening to people’s concerns and is committed to providing a first rate bus service for the hard working people of my constituency.