Ministers could force Transport for London (TfL) to hike fares from next year by as much as 10 per cent, Sadiq Khan has warned. TfL fares already rose by nearly five per cent in March 2022, hitting London Underground, bus, DLR and tram passengers in the pocket, as a condition of a government bailout with TfL last year. The hike, which was just above the current rate of inflation, came as TfL is pushed to claw back lost income from the pandemic.
This year’s hike was the biggest rise in TfL fare prices since 2012, with Tube fares solely within Zone 1 r ising from £2.40 to £2.50. But on Thursday (June 9) Mr Khan set out a further stark scenario for public transport users in the capital. Mr Khan told Assembly Members: “For the first years of my time in office we froze fares. My concern is what happens this September when inflation is at nine or ten per cent. That’s a nine or ten per cent fare increase next year if the government requires RPI [inflation] plus 1 per cent.”
Ministers have attached tough conditions to a series of bailouts with TfL after fare revenues collapsed by as much as 95 per cent during the pandemic. TfL has received around £5bn in public cash and a fresh bailout is needed up until next April before the mayor-led transport body must become “financially sustainable” from government support.
The mayor said his priority when negotiating with government would be to stop a hike in fares. “I don’t want to add to [the cost of living] with an increase in fares next January…If fares are more affordable, more people use public transport. There’s an economic case to keeping fares low, and a moral case,” Mr Khan said.
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(Image: Victoria Jones/PA Wire)
Faced with calls to further extend the hopper bus fare scheme – where users are not charged twice for taking two buses within an hour – Mr Khan told Green AM Sian Berry: “It appears you’re living 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. The Department for Transport are trying to micromanage London.”
He added that in bailout talks with central government keeping “simple things” like the hopper fare was a “challenge”, alongside keeping free travel for under-18s in the capital. In March, the mayor said: “Since TfL’s finances were decimated by the pandemic, the Government has set strict conditions as part of the emergency funding deals to keep essential transport services running in London. We have been forced into this position by the Government and the way it continues 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 outlet’s first City Hall Editor in October 2021, reporting on the Mayor, the London Assembly, the Met police, Transport for London, and wider London politics.
He moved to South London from Brussels 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 current affairs and general political chaos.
If you have an untold story – whether it’s a housing nightmare, an unfair decision or a local scandal, get in touch at [email protected] or contact Josiah on Twitter.