The Mayor of London has been told that if he does not accept the Government’s demands which include higher taxes, fare hikes and extending the congestion charge zone out to the A406, then they will seize control of Transport for London and will not deliver the bailout that the service needs.
During the height of lockdown Transport for London recorded a reduction in travel of over 90% as Londoners were told to ‘Stay Home, Save Lives and Protect the NHS’. Despite Sadiq Khan having brought TfL’s net deficit down by 71% over four years and increasing cash reserves by 13%, it was clear that more support would be needed to sustain the service.
The Mayor asked for an 18-month deal and showed that TfL needed £2bn just for the next six months. The offer they got back was £1bn for six months – with punitive, long-term conditions for Londoners attached.
Jon Cruddas MP for Dagenham and Rainham reacted to the news: “The Tory Government’s TfL funding proposal is nothing less than an attack on Londoners – punishing commuters in Dagenham and Rainham with fare hikes, council tax increases and an excessive extension of the congestion charge zone. Under their measures residents who have made great sacrifice to follow the Government’s rules will have to shell out £15 just to visit neighbouring Newham.
“We always knew that there would be difficult choices to make, but the Tories seemingly have no trouble handing a blank cheque to failing private train operators whilst refusing to give TfL the support it needs. The Tories are playing unscrupulous political games at a time when the national good should come first.”
Transport for London provides an essential service and ensured that London’s key workers could get to work during the height of the pandemic. Last week London entered Tier 2 and with the national economy under strain it is crucial that London continues to function. London’s net contribution to the Treasury was £38.8bn last year, which means that Londoners not only pay for transport services in the capital, but heavily subsidise those in the rest of the country.
Government funding in May 2020 also came with conditions which meant the removal of travel concessions for under 18s and over 60s. Whilst this funding plugged the immediate gap it was just a sticking plaster and failed to address the dramatic loss in funding due to Covid-19.
Jon Cruddas MP added: “The Tories already pulled the rug out from under our young people and the over-60s by removing travel concessions, now this. Make no mistake these measures will hit the poorest Londoners the hardest, stifling London’s economic recovery and leaving people in constituencies like mine under increasing financial pressure.”
In the coming weeks and months Jon Cruddas MP will be working alongside other London MPs and the Mayor’s office to lobby against these changes.