Ministers could force Transport for London (TfL) to raise fares from next year by up to 10%, Sadiq Khan has warned. TfL fares have already risen by almost 5% in March 2022, hitting London Tube, bus, DLR and tram passengers in the pocket, as a condition of a government bailout with TfL the year last. The rise, which was just above the current rate of inflation, came as TfL is pushed to recoup lost revenue from the pandemic.
This year’s rise was the biggest increase in TfL fare prices since 2012, with Tube-only fares in Zone 1 rising from £2.40 to £2.50. But on Thursday June 9, Mr Khan presented another grim scenario for the capital’s public transport users. Mr. Khan told Assembly members: “During the first years of my term, we froze tariffs. the government requires the RPI [inflation] plus 1 percent.”
Ministers have attached tough conditions to a series of bailouts with TfL after tariff revenues collapsed by up to 95% during the pandemic. TfL has received around £5billion in public money and a new bailout is needed until next April before the mayor-led transport body becomes “financially viable” with government support.
The mayor said his priority in negotiations with the government would be to stop a rate hike. “I don’t want to add [the cost of living] with an increase in fares next January… If fares are more affordable, more people use public transport. There is an economic argument for keeping tariffs low and a moral argument,” Khan said.
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Faced with calls to further extend the hopper bus pricing system – where users are not charged twice for taking two buses in an hour – Mr Khan told Green AM Sian Berry: “It looks like you live in a parallel universe where the government hasn’t asked us for cuts.The universe I live in is to balance my budget next year…I’m trying to keep what we have. of Transport is trying to micromanage London.
He added that in bailout talks with the central government, keeping “simple things” like the hopper fare was a “challenge”, while keeping travel free for under-18s in the capital. In March, the mayor said: “Since TfL’s finances have been decimated by the pandemic, the government has set strict conditions under emergency funding agreements to maintain essential transport services in London. We have been forced into this position by the government and the way they continue to refuse to properly fund TfL, but I have done everything in my power to keep fares as affordable as possible.
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Josiah joined MyLondon as the first City Hall Editor in October 2021, reporting on the Mayor, London Assembly, Met Police, Transport for London and wider London politics.
He moved from Brussels to south London in 2015, working in communications for the Electoral Reform Society and covering Westminster politics as a freelance journalist. Originally from Cornwall, he is now also a proud Londoner. Josiah has appeared on BBC Radio 4, Times Radio, LBC and other outlets to discuss the news and general political chaos.