Doing the Sums

Election 2008, LondonUnlockedEditor1 Comment

The furore created by Boris Johnson's plans to create a fleet of new Routemaster buses, complete with conductors, has been thrown into a new light following an article in the Evening Standard showing the cost of fare dodging to TfL.

Mr Johnson's plan is costed by his campaign at £8m, a figure which Ken Livingstone states is incorrect. The Mayor places the cost of the proposal at £108m, a figure backed - again causing consternation from Mr Johnson - by TfL.

You can read the Guardian's latest piece on this seemingly never-ending back and forth here.

However, the Evening Standard has a fascinating piece in its pages today, putting the cost of fare dodging on the buses at £50m.

The figures, released thanks to a freedom of information request from the Liberal Democrats. A telling response from the article follows:

Lib-Dem mayoral candidate Brian Paddick said: "I heard a Londoner describing a bendy bus as the 'free bus'. No wonder no one pays. I would increase the penalty for not paying to £80 and step up revenue inspection officers."

A spokesman for Ken Livingstone said 58.2 million evasions was a relatively small figure, as there are 1.6 billion journeys each year.

However, what is most interesting is that the re-introduction of conductors - Mr Johnson's proposal - would end this abuse in almost one stroke.

Suddenly the terms of the argument change. Which candidate has better policies to stop fare dodging and to save TfL £50m per year?

As this debate rumbles on, as it is sure to do, LondonUnlocked will keep you informed on developments.