London mayor Sadiq Khan has slammed predecessor Boris Johnson for agreeing to the removal of central government funding towards operating Transport for London (TfL) but insisted that his transport budget was sound.
He told the London Assembly Budget and Performance committee: ‘We are the only major public transport body in Europe not subsidised by central government. I mean it’s just astonishing.
London mayor Sadiq Khan
‘I know people get upset when I criticise the previous mayor, but the previous mayor agreed a deal with government to get rid of our operation grant, £700m a year, roughly speaking, from central government.
‘But I want to move from a situation where we are in deficit, breaking even, to being in surplus and we have made massive savings across the TfL organisation.’
Mr Khan said he was confident that TfL’s budget assumptions were sound despite a fall in passenger numbers, something he referred to as a ‘blip’ although he acknowledged that people working from home or ‘watching the Crown on Netflix rather than going to the cinema’ were having an impact on travel patterns.
The mayor also accused ministers of ‘punishing’ Londoners by not allocating revenue to the capital from Vehicle Excise Duty
He said: ‘London will not receive any of the allocation from the new roads fund – £500m is raised from Vehicle Excise Duty paid for by Londoners, and the next operating costs of London’s roads, which is currently £200m a year, renewing these roads between £100m to £150m a year is being cross-subsidised by the fare-paying public transport users.’
Asked by Liberal Democrat assembly member Caroline Pidgeon how the condition of the capital’s roads would be affected by reduced spending on maintenance and renewals in his budget, Mr Khan said: ‘As a consequence of this Government’s policies, as a consequence of the last Budget in particular, less money will be spent on London’s roads to maintain them. We can’t run away from that.
‘In the short to medium term, TfL will have to significantly reduce their programme of proactive capital renewals on the road network. We will of course make sure the safety of the network is maintained.'
He added that London road users are also subsidising the costs of cleaning up polluted air in the rest of the country via the air quality fund.
While stating that transport secretary Chris Grayling was sympathetic to the needs of Londoners and road users, he described the Government as ‘the most anti-London Government in my memory’.
A Treasury spokesperson said: 'London has received more than £10bn in government transport funding since 2010 to help improve journeys, and the Government has supported projects such as Crossrail and the Lower Thames Crossing to transform the capital’s infrastructure.
'Transport for London will now receive more than £800m per year from its new powers to retain business rates. It is up to the mayor to decide how this money is spent on London’s transport.'