London fares to rise as furious Khan wants funding reform

 

London mayor Sadiq Khan has admitted that the £1.6bn Transport for London (TfL) rescue package agreed with government is not the deal he wanted and that fares would rise as a result.

From January, fares are expected to increase on all modes of transport in line with the RPI inflation rate, plus 1%.

Mr Khan said it was 'the only deal the Government put on the table and I had no choice but to accept it to keep the Tubes and buses running'.

He pledged that 'over the next few months we will have to negotiate a new funding model with Government – which will involve either permanent funding from Government or giving London more control over key taxes so we can pay for it ourselves - or a combination of both'.

'The Government is, in effect, making ordinary Londoners pay the cost for doing the right thing on Covid-19. They want fares to go up next January – ending the four years fares freeze I delivered after the last election. They have insisted that free travel is temporarily suspended for Freedom Pass and 60-plus card holders at peak times. We agreed it was the right thing to review the Congestion Charge,' he added.

The Congestion Charge (C-charge) and Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), suspended on 23 March, have been reintroduced from today (18 May).

The C-charge reimbursement scheme has been temporarily extended to support NHS, care home employees and London Ambulance Service staff for journeys relating to the coronavirus, including journeys to and from work.

The C-charge also will also increase by 30% from £11.50 to £15 from June 22 and will be enforced seven days a week, rather than just on weekdays at present.

Its operating hours will be temporarily extended in the evening from 6pm to 10pm. The charge will continue to be levied from 7am.

Mr Khan bemoaned the fact that TfL's cedntral government grant was cut by the last Government making it the only major city in western Europe that hasn’t received direct Government funding.

As a result of losing its grant, TfL relies on fare revenue. This has fallen by 90% in the last two months, leaving it with a roughly £600m monthly loss.

The public body was on the brink of issuing a Section 114 notice, a statutory acknowledgement that a public authority's finances can no longer cover expenditure. Across the whole financial year, TfL is forecasting a loss of £4bn.

Mr Khan also highlighted that around £505m of the deal came in the form of increased borrowing rather than a direct grant.

Under the deal, TfL must increase services to 100% as soon as possible.

TfL is today (Monday 18th May) operating:

  • 85% of bus services;
  • 75% of Tube services. The Circle line has been re-instated and 7 of the 37 stations that were closed for several weeks are now open;
  • 80% of London Overground and Docklands Light Railway (DLR) services;
  • 100% of TfL Rail services;
  • 95% of London Trams services;
  • 95% of Cycle Hire services, with all three cycle hire hubs staffed and open and a further two cycle hire hubs added for additional demand.
  • 100% of the Emirates Airline
  • A one boat service on the Woolwich Ferry

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