Khan wants £2bn a year for TfL as fares rise and cuts bite

Transport for London (TfL) has made a pitch for £3.1bn government funding for the next financial year as it published details of fare rises and cuts to services.

One union said it will ‘use every weapon at our disposal’ to fight against the cuts, which TfL blames on its tough financial settlement from central government.

TfL pointed out that as part of its funding deal with the Government in October, mayor Sadiq Khan was required to increase fares under his control in order to deliver an overall fares rise of 2.6%, i.e. RPI inflation plus 1%.

Underground, DLR and rail fares set by TfL within a single fare zone will not change but fares for passengers travelling further will rise. Single bus and tram fare will increase by 5p to £1.55, and the daily cap will increase by 15p to £4.65. Hire fees for the Santander Cycle scheme will not change.

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Mr Khan said: ‘Londoners know that I have done everything possible to make public transport more affordable since I became mayor - including introducing the unlimited Hopper bus fare and freezing all TfL fares since taking office - saving the average London household over £200.

‘Unfortunately this year ministers insisted on a RPI+1% fares increase in order for TfL to get the emergency government support needed as a consequence of the global pandemic.’

TfL also published its Financial Sustainability Plan, which City Hall said ‘focuses on a green recovery and sets out how it can achieve financial sustainability after fare income was decimated by the pandemic - covering costs of day-to-day operations, maintenance and financing by 2023/24’.

It added: ‘All transport systems around the world rely on Government capital investment and TfL is requesting Government investment and continued, longer-term support.’

The transport authority said it needs £3.1bn for 2021/22 and that it, the mayor and government ‘should then focus resource on working on a long-term solution from 2022/23 onwards’.

TfL officials said that by 2023/24, it will be able to cover the costs of operations, maintenance and financing, as well as starting to cover the cost of its core renewals by 2024/25.

However it stressed that this forecast assumes that the Government will allow it to keep £500m from Vehicle Excise Duty paid in the capital or that it will introduce a £3.50-a-day Greater London Boundary Charge.

It added: ‘For the remaining renewals and enhancements and to decarbonise by 2030, TfL requires £1.6bn per annum.’

This means that in the absence of the boundary charge, TfL is asking for more than £2bn per year from central government.

TfL pointed out that it has already set out some cuts to Tube and Bus services, adding: ‘TfL’s view is that in the short-term significant service level reductions should be avoided.’

It is proposing a further 4% cut in the kilometres operated by the bus network by 2024/25.

However, it added: ‘Over the longer term, service reductions or re-shaping may need to be considered as post-pandemic travel patterns emerge.’

Mick Cash, general secretary of the RMT union described the plan as ‘a massive missed opportunity and a capitulation to Tory austerity’.

He said: ‘TfL could have used this moment to aggressively make the case for setting its funding on a completely new basis, recognising the failure of fare box model and making the case for public funding that recognises the public interest in London’s mass transit system.

'Instead, we have a document that spends pages setting out exactly why cuts to services and jobs are a bad idea that won’t save money while at the same time saying it will consider cuts to off peak services. Most scandalously, the plan calls for a commission to examine options for attacking our members’ pension scheme, chasing a Tory obsession.’

Mr Cash warned: ‘RMT will not stand for any attack on our members jobs, pay or pensions, wherever it comes from. We’ll use every weapon at our disposal to fight any cuts.’

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