Londoners face cuts to Tube and bus services as Sadiq Khan demands more money from taxpayers to fill a £500m hole in the budget of the capital’s transport authority.
Transport for London is to cut weekend and off-peak services from next year, according to board papers released by the body.
Fares will go up by more than 4pc in January and bus services will be reduced in the following years – a rise of 1pc more than the retail prices index (RPI). The UK’s official rate of inflation is the lower consumer price index.
Under a rise of 4pc, the cost of a monthly travelcard between zones one and four in London would increase from £204.30 to around £212.47.
Despite the cuts, Mr Khan, TfL’s chairman, said the authority required a further £500m from Westminster to avoid services grinding to a halt between January and March next year.
Arthur Leathley, chairman of passenger watchdog London TravelWatch, said: “Londoners will be worried about an overall reduction in the number of miles that buses travel. And they will be concerned about reductions in off-peak Tube services which contradict the new way that people are moving around, with more use of off-peak services because of home-working and an increased demand for leisure travel.
“It is also disappointing that the need to make savings has reduced TfL’s ability to deliver active travel and [London] borough travel schemes, as cycling and walking were popular during the pandemic. This latest report once again highlights TfL’s reliance on fares revenue, the uncertainty around future demand for public transport in the capital and the need for a long-term settlement from the Government.”
TfL insisted that there were “no material change to service levels” disclosed in previous budgets.
Mr Khan said: “If we don’t get further Government support in December, there could still be a £500m gap this year and so I urge Ministers to treat TfL as they do the private rail operators, and commit to a long-term funding agreement. This is vital not only for the good of London, but for the whole country.”
A key pillar to the London mayor’s first five years in office was to freeze fares across the capital. The pledge put strain on TfL’s finances as they were hit by the pandemic – although Mr Khan pledged that they would not go up by more than the cost of living.
TfL main alternate sources of revenue
Andy Byford, London’s Transport Commissioner, who previously ran New York’s public transport network, has highlighted that roughly 70pc in every pound spent on London’s network comes from fares – roughly double the 35pc in New York and Paris.
To mitigate this exposure to fare revenues, Mr Byford has repeatedly called on Westminster to agree to a long-term rail subsidy instead of a number of short-term bailouts. TfL has previously asked for more than £15bn to fund a long-term deal to keep the authority afloat until the end of the year.
Mr Byford said: "The revised budget will ensure our services operate safely, while keeping vital capital investment going. This budget protects service levels, supports economic recovery and will help build a greener economy.
"TfL is meeting its part of the deal with the Government to get back to financial self-sufficiency. I now call on the Government to truly engage with TfL to secure the long-term funding agreement that will drive London and the wider UK’s recovery."
The latest bailout keeps TfL services running until December this year. By that point TfL will have received £4.8bn in grants from Westminster.