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Councillors slam plan to scrap two Dartford bus services

PUBLISHED: 07:00 11 September 2019

Dartford bus stop at Dartford Civic Centre. Picture: Ciaran Duggan

Dartford bus stop at Dartford Civic Centre. Picture: Ciaran Duggan

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Councillors have slammed Transport for London's proposal to axe two bus services.

Dartford Borough Council's cabinet met at Dartford Civic Centre on Thursday, September 5 to air their frustrations at TfL's proposal to scrap the 428 service from Crayford to Bluewater and 492 from Dartford town centre to Bluewater.

It will mean a reduction of services from parts of Dartford to Bexley, including Erith and Sidcup, as well as Bluewater. A two-month public consultation closed on Tuesday, September 10.

Cllr Andy Lloyd (Con), the cabinet member for finance, said: "The Mayor of London is stopping people from west of Dartford going to Bluewater."

Angry council leader Jeremy Kite (Con) told the cabinet: "I suggest we put in a robust response to say we are not happy about this and feel really strongly about it."

Transport for London says it has "no statutory responsibility" to operate to and from destinations in Kent as the area is outside Greater London.

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It also played down the potential impact saying the services are duplicated, with the 96 bus service travelling the same route as 428.

Opponents have said the scrapped services will lead to additional wait and journey times for commuters, including school pupils, disabled people and the elderly, and claim the service remains "viable' and well used.

In addition, they say London Road commuters will bear the brunt of the issue as the residents will no longer have a direct bus route to Bluewater or Dartford town centre.

Cllr Kite urged Transport for London to put their proposals "on hold" until a new secondary school opens in Stone, which is on one of the bus routes.

Fearing the impact on prospective pupils, he said: "This will change students' fare box immeasurably and it seems to me there is a legitimate concern to the communities of Stone."

The local council is calling for additional stopping points in Watling Street, between Dartford and Bluewater, for the 428 service and an increase in the frequency of the 96 service from Woolwich to Bluewater.

Despite this, the local authority has already suffered a knock-back with Arriva refusing to take on the 492 service, according to council officers.

Dartford residents can have their say on the proposal by visiting tfl.gov.uk/dartford-crayford or emailing consultations@tfl.gov.uk

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