London’s Mayor says he will not accept what he calls the government’s “vindictive” proposals for transport funding in London.
Writing on the LabourList website, Sadiq Khan says government wants to hike up transport fares in London way above inflation, increase council tax bills and force millions more to pay the Congestion Charge. “This would effectively punish Londoners for doing the right thing by following the government’s own advice on using public transport,” he says.
Mr Khan says that he will not accept the proposals, “which would hit Londoners with a triple whammy of higher costs – adding up to hundreds of pounds per year for those who live and drive in London – at a time when so many families are already struggling.”
Furthermore he has accused The Prime Minister of lying to Parliament when he said Transport for London only needed emergency national funding now due to actions Khan had taken prior to the pandemic. “The truth is that before the coronavirus I was fixing the financial mess at TfL that I’d inherited from Boris Johnson when he was mayor. Over the course of four years, I had reduced TfL’s deficit by 71% and increased cash reserves by 13%,” he writes.
“The sole cause of TfL’s financial problems is Covid-19 – and it’s easy to see why,” he continues. “Due to a deal struck between Boris Johnson and the then-Chancellor George Osborne in 2015, TfL is the only major transport network in Western Europe that doesn’t receive any direct government funding for day-to-day services. This means it is almost completely reliant on passenger fares to pay for the running of services.
During the national lockdown, we saw passenger numbers on public transport plummet by 95%. This hit revenues extremely hard. At the same time, we had to continue operating safe services for our key workers.
“Rail companies across the country have also faced emergency funding issues due to a drop in passenger numbers during the pandemic. In every case, the Tory government has agreed to give these failing private train rail operators an 18-month blank-cheque funding deal – with no strings attached – so that they can continue to run a profit for their shareholders. Even though TfL provides a far better service than the private rail operators, the Tories are not offering the same deal for us. Instead, they are treating London differently – inflicting vindictive and draconian measures.”