Transport for London (TfL) boss, Mike Brown, has cautioned mayoral candidates against promising a fares freeze due to the multi-billion pound cuts announced in the Spending Review.
He told the London Assembly’s transport committee that the Department for Transport’s phasing out of TfL’s revenue grant would reduce its overall income by £2.8bn over the business plan period 2015/16 to 2020/21.
Work was underway to identify how to meet the challenge, including through further exploitation of property.
Mike Brown: Fare freezes a 'very large ask'
Labour’s mayoral candidate, Sadiq Khan, has already said fares should be frozen for four years.
Transport committee member Richard Tracey asked whether a freeze was a possibility, given the post-CSR budget position. Mr Brown replied: ‘I think it’s definitely too early to make any sort of commitment to that – would be my strong recommendation to the mayor, although of course ultimately fares are a matter for the mayor himself or herself.
‘I think we have to be very clear that we do want an affordable, accessible transport network for everybody, so the ability to contain fare increases going forward has to be always balanced between the need to continue to invest in the infrastructure, to continue the modernisation of the tube, do what we need to do on the road network and everything else that’s required.’
He agreed with Mr Tracey that a fares freeze would be a ‘very large ask’ and said: ‘At the moment, fares still account for a very significant proportion of our income and revenue stream. The work I was talking about in terms of commercial development and other opportunities doesn’t yet come close to the sort of contribution that fares make. I would certainly be very cautious about saying we can amend our fares plan at the moment.
‘This is the significant challenge that we’ve got in terms of the much steeper reduction in our revenue grant. Can we continue to invest and deliver these savings at the same time?’