Calls for Transport for London to provide a direct bus route between Stamford Hill and Golders Green have been renewed amidst “heightened stress and anxiety” due to an increase in antisemitic hate crimes.
The issue was raised by Jewish community leaders during a meeting with TfL Commissioner Andy Lord and Deputy Mayor for Transport Seb Dance to address the “anxieties and concerns” members of the community, and especially those who are visibly Jewish, had when travelling on the TfL network.
The calls for the bus-route change have been part of an ongoing campaign run by the London Jewish Forum, which facilitated the meeting, and has received support from the last three consecutive London mayors. Deputy Mayor Joanne McCartney has submitted a written request to Mayor Sadiq Khan and said she was awaiting a response.
Currently, travellers wishing to make the journey between the two areas, which have large strictly Orthodox Jewish populations, can take a 210 bus to Finsbury Park, where they must change to travel to Stamford Hill.
Stamford Hill community leader Rabbi Levi Schapiro, who runs the Jewish Community Council, said that the wish to extend the 210 route had led to “extensive campaigns and talks over the years” and that “the current climate refreshes our calls for TfL to provide this journey, which not only will help children and worried parents feel safer, especially during shorter winter evenings, but will also help people who can’t afford to pay for two bus rides during the cost-of-living crisis.”
Also present on behalf of the Charedi community was Joel Friedman, director of the Pinter Trust, who said the noticeable increase in hate crimes had led to “heightened stress and anxiety” in their community.
TfL did not commit to any action regarding the bus route proposal during the meeting.
Lord, joined by Dance, also apologised to the Jewish community for the “distressing” incident involving a London tube driver who led a “Free Palestine” chant over the train’s speaker system during a pro-Palestinian rally.
They confirmed the man’s suspension pending a full investigation and reaffirmed TfL’s commitment to tackling hate crimes.
Lord reassured community leaders present, who included representatives from the Board of Deputies, JLC and PAJES, that TfL were “doing all we can” to ensure safe travelling.
As well as “uplifting” their zero-tolerance marketing campaign, TfL would be increasing the number of “visible policing and staff” on bus routes serving Jewish areas and schools and would take “immediate action on all reports of offensive graffiti and pursuit of offenders”.
Johnny Newton, external affairs director of the Community Security Trust, spoke to those present about the “significant rise” in antisemitic incidents.
Daniel Sugarman, director of public affairs for the Board of Deputies, discussed the importance of CCTV upgrades on certain underground lines. He said the meeting was “extremely positive” and felt that concerns were understood and appreciated.
Moishe Friedlander of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregation said TfL were “doing everything they can” to ensure the strictly Orthodox community could “go about their daily lives in a safe and pleasant manner”.