Tower Hamlets’ 25 bus route most ‘soiled’ with blood, urine, vomit and broken glass

A number 25 bus passes by the Bow Flyover.

A number 25 bus passes by the Bow Flyover. - Credit: Vickie Flores/Archant

The 25 bus route running from Ilford to central London via Stratford and Mile End was London’s most “soiled” last year, figures show.

Figures obtained by the Press Association show that Transport for London (TfL) buses were reported as “soiled” a total of 14,632 times in 2018.

TfL classes a bus as having been soiled when passengers have left vomit, urine, blood or smashed glass behind.

Campaign group Save Our Buses has been calling on the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to restore the 25 bus route to Oxford Circus, after it was cut short to Holborn in December last year.

Responding to the figures, the group’s coordinator John Darnell said: “The 25 was the most popular bus route last year, topping 20 million passengers when the service was running from Ilford to Oxford Circus.

A number 25 bus passes by the Bow Flyover.

A number 25 bus passes by the Bow Flyover. - Credit: Vickie Flores/Archant

“But we may well see that tailing off.”

Asked whether figures chime with his experience, he did not recall a bad experience on 25.

But he did speak of an instance in which he caught the 449 bus in Havering and the bus had not been cleaned from the night before.

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“It’s not just the 25 bus route – it’s across the board,” he said. “It happening on the Tube also following the introduction of the Night Tube.”

“We need to make sure the maintenance teams are out cleaning the buses quickly and things are not just left there.”

October was the worst month for soiling on the bus network (1,351 incidents) closely followed by December (1,349 incidents) and July (1,291 incidents), the month in which England strung together a series of wins in the World Cup knockout stages.

Several bus routes had vehicles soiled on average more than twice per week.

John Murphy, regional officer of the Unite union, which represents cleaners on London buses, said: “If buses are soiled or fouled then that results in the bus being taken out of service which has the biggest impact on passengers who experience longer journeys and delays.”

Tube trains also had to be delayed by at least two minutes on 801 separate occasions last year while staff cleaned up a “soiled car”.

A cleaner on the District and Central lines, who wishes to remain anonymous, said he and his colleagues face difficult working conditions.

He added: “Sometimes it is very disgusting, especially on weekends and nights.

“From my own experience, once I even found a poo on the train and you have to clean it properly.”

Some passengers “don’t care about the cleaners”, he added.

The Northern line was the worst affected underground route, with 221 of the incidents in 2018 happening on the route which stops at nightlife hotspots including Old Street and Camden Town.

This was followed by the Jubilee (113), Central (101) and Piccadilly (90) lines.

The lines soiled least frequently were the Waterloo and City (3), Circle and Hammersmith & City (45) and Bakerloo (50).

Mick Cash, general secretary of the RMT union, said: “These shocking statistics show just what a dirty and disgusting job our cleaner members have to do mopping up the mess left behind by drunks on the London Underground.

“There is no question that the introduction of the night Tube has seen an increase in this sort of behaviour which has appalling consequences for staff and passengers alike.”

Cleaners on the London Underground are a “hidden army” with “mops and buckets cleaning up the filth and mess to keep London moving”, he added.

A spokeswoman for TfL said: “We aim to deal with any incidents of this nature on our network as soon as possible once they are reported, with specialist staff available to undertake cleaning as required.

“We ask all customers to consider their fellow passengers and to help us to keep the network running safely and smoothly.”