Fare Rises

Articles, LondonUnlockedEditor1 Comment

200809051122.jpgBoris Johnson is reaping the results of ending the cheap oil deal with Venezuela, announcing fare rises to cover a funding 'black hole'. From The Times:

Some fares will rise by more than 6 per cent, with the cost of a single bus trip increasing from 90p to £1, more than 10 per cent. Mr Johnson said there would be “tough choices” ahead regarding transport projects...

The news isn't surprising. Given the massive power-grab initiated by Ken Livingstone in the final months of his administration, increasing Olympic costs, dropping Venezuelan subsidies, confirming CrossRail, and maintaining Tube upgrades, the coffers at TfL were going to be stretched very thin.

However, it is to be welcomed that there is a degree of honesty about the announcement. Immediately prior to the last Mayoral election, Ken Livingstone was caught in a lie about planned fare increases which only served to burnish the Johnson narrative of the then-Mayor playing fast and loose with the truth.

Business has welcomed the announcement, with Baroness Valentine, Chief Executive of London First saying:

“It’s vital that TfL balances its books, so this may be an unpopular decision, but a brave one.”

Providing that Mr Johnson has costed these rises appropriately, can work within the framework which he has given himself, and can act to drive fares down once the deficit has been removed from the books, LondonUnlocked believes that he will not suffer electorally for this move.

Londoners and Business need to understand the Mayor and trust both his judgement and accounting skills - this is a move in the right direction by Mr Johnson in renewing that bond.

Whilst money may be tight, "soft" improvements to the network, such as real-time travel information being readily available, can make a real difference to commuters, and assure people as to the reliability of transport in London. In an article for Public Service, Phil Pavitt details TfL's vision for TfL's contract with the public:

Our aims at TfL are high and we have a vision in which the customer can get truly integrated real-time information directly to their mobile or via the internet that lets them co-ordinate a journey involving buses and the Underground, and that minimises waiting times and even provides additional information such as which exit to take and where local places of interest are. In essence, we want people to have easy access to real-time data that makes travelling in the capital as simple as possible.

That is a vision of travelling in London which will make a huge difference to the people who live and work here. If Mr Johnson can deliver it, then a 6% fare rise will be more than justified.