No sooner had new London Mayor Sadiq Khan taken office than it transpired that one of his key vote winning pledges was not what it seemed. He promised to freeze public transport fares for four years but that will only apply to certain fares it is now reported.
Mr Khan told the London Assembly last week that the price freeze would not extend to season tickets because they can include stages on trains run by private companies. Those companies are regulated by the Government and not by the Mayor and TfL. The Government has rejected any idea of freezing fares so the Mayor’s original promise cannot be delivered in full.
Mike Brown, Transport Commissioner, gave us the good news though. This means the cost of the “promise” will only be a £600m impact on TfL’s budgets rather than the £1.9bn that he was talking about under the previous regime. But that’s a lot of money to find to fill the hole in the budget and still deliver on the Mayor’s other promises.
Mr Khan is hoping to save money by tackling inefficiencies in TFL where more than 400 staff earn more than £100,000 a year and both they and their families get free travel perks (now under review).
Old Mayor’s Advice Ignored – Bus Passengers the Main Losers
An article in Local Transport Today (LTT) had long-standing public transport supporter David Begg complaining that Boris Johnson ignored advice to reduce road vehicle demand in central London while introducing the cycle superhighways. By not reducing traffic volumes, the result has been worsening congestion and slower traffic speeds. He said “Bus passengers have been the main losers”. The article reported that bus speeds have fallen by more than 5% on a third of routes in London in the last year. This has also reduced bus passenger volumes. But even Mr Begg concedes that “It is the substantial reduction in road space, with planned roadworks increasing by 362% over the last three years, which has led to significant increases in congestion”. Editor’s comment: how amusing to see this arch advocate of road pricing and congestion charging admit that congestion has been caused in London by the previous Mayor’s perverse destruction of the road network in the pursuit to get us all cycling.