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Bus strike next week could bring increased demand for taxis and minicabs

Transport for London (TfL) has issued travel advice to bus customers in parts of west, south west and north west London ahead of potential industrial action on a number of routes operated by RATP Dev London early next week.

The Government's message remains for everyone to stay at home wherever possible and only travel for legally permitted reasons, and TfL has been continuing to run services for those who need them throughout the pandemic.

If the proposed action goes ahead it will affect 59 day bus routes, six 24-hour routes, six night routes and nine school routes all predominately in south west London.

TfL will ensure as many bus services run as possible but customers in west, south west and north west London and parts of Surrey and Hertfordshire are advised to check before they travel from Monday 22 February. Normal services are expected to resume from 6am on Thursday 25 February.

Because of the planned action, TfL have contacted taxi and private hire drivers to tell them there may be an increased demand for taxi and private hire services in the area.

All other London buses will operate as usual. To ensure any potential disruption is kept to a minimum, customers who must travel on the potentially affected days are advised to check before they travel, leave extra time for their journey, and where possible, consider alternative transport. Real time service updates will be available on the TfL website TfL Go app, with information on quiet times on the network also available on the website.

TfL is contacting all registered Oyster card users of the affected routes to advise of the potential disruption and encourage them to check before travelling. Countdown signs will also warn of potential disruption. Those who plan to make shorter journeys on these dates are encouraged to walk or cycle, and Santander cycle hire services are available at Putney and Hammersmith for journeys into central London.

Claire Mann, Director of Bus Operations at TfL, said: "We're sorry that some of our customers may experience disruption to their journeys early next week. We're doing all we can to minimise this, but customers should check before they travel and leave more time for their journeys, while remembering the Government's advice to continue to stay at home if they can. We urge all parties to sit down and talk through the issues to try and resolve them as soon as possible."

The strike follows Unite the Union’s accusation that the French-owned RATP is using the pandemic as ‘a convenient smokescreen’ to attempt to implement pay policies that could see some of their drivers lose up to £2,500-a-year.

RATP operates three subsidiaries across the London bus network: London United, London Sovereign and Quality Line.

Unite regional officer for RATP, Michelle Braveboy, said: “The strike action planned for next week will go ahead at RATP, bringing serious disruption to services in the south, west and north of London.

“RATP remains hell-bent on using the pandemic as a convenient smokescreen to attack key worker terms and conditions which, if implemented, will see drivers at London United lose up to £2,500-a-year, when the cost of living in the capital is soaring.

“These are not temporary changes, but permanent ones that will see members suffer a substantial financial loss. The dispute regarding the zero contract hours has also not been resolved.

“Members at London Sovereign are angry at the derisory offer and the strength of feeling is the same for those at Quality Line who are still some of the lowest paid drivers on Transport for London (TFL) routes. The bosses should have used this opportunity to address the disparity in pay for all drivers at the Epsom garage.

“Our members have no option other than to fight back against these attacks, while recognising the disruption caused.

“They are reluctant to take strike action at a time of national emergency, but feel they have been pushed against the wall by hardline directors.

“Even at this late stage, RATP has the opportunity to avert the strikes by withdrawing the threat to terms and conditions, continuing the negotiations and making a fair offer to our members.”


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