The Transport Secretary has described London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s decision to freeze fares on tubes and buses for four years as not “reasonable”, because it led to a shortfall in around £640 million in revenue.
Grant Shapps was answering questions posed by the Transport Select Committee over the Government’s £1.6 billion bailout of Transport for London which has led to an increase in the Congestion Charge’s price and operational hours.
He said the fare decision was a factor in TfL’s financial problems before the Coronavirus crisis led to a 90% fall in revenues as people stopped using public transport.
“Now here we are asking the wider taxpayer to bail out over a billion pounds in part to make up for revenues which have failed to be collected,” he said.
A Mayoral spokesperson told financial newspaper City AM, “Before the pandemic the TfL fares freeze was encouraging more people to use public transport, helping cushion the impact of the wider subdued economy across the UK.
“Sadiq has ensured TfL was in a strong financial position since he was elected – reducing its operating deficit from £1.5 billion to £200 million and was on track to turn this into a surplus by 2022/23, and increasing its reserves to £2 billion, despite London being the only city in Western Europe that gets no direct central government support for its transport network.