Boris seeks to justify inflation-busting tube and bus fare rises - and a 25% increase in the C-Charge
As the Evening Standard reports, he has just announced a series of substantial fare increases for London's commuters which will come into effect in 2010, including:
- Congestion Charge rises from £8 to £10 once the Western extension is scrapped (up 25%)
- Pay-as-you-go Oystercard bus fares rise from £1 to £1.20 (up 20%) although cash fares are frozen
- A seven-day bus pass rises from £13.80 to £16.60 (up 20%)
- Most Pay-as-you-go Oystercard tube fares rise by 20p
The paper reports that overall, bus fares will rise by 12.7% and Tube fares by 3.9%.
Boris Johnson has written for the paper, saying he had no choice but to raise fares in order to ensure that improvements and repairs to the system can be funded:
"We are coping with the colossal costs of the failure of Metronet and the disastrous PPP, and we are dealing with the costs of years of irresponsible politically motivated jiggery-pokery in setting fares. That is why I am announcing these rises today. They give me no pleasure whatever. But I believe passionately that they are reasonable and in the best interests of London."
"London Underground has already shed 1,000 backroom positions. We have cut £220 million on consultants and £130 million on accommodation costs, as part of a programme that will take £5 billion out of TfL's budget by 2018. We have taken some very tough decisions to slow down projects such as some station renewals and step-free access because it is there that we can find savings that do not compromise the great prize: to increase capacity, and to allow more people to travel in speed and comfort on public transport. We have been ruthless in finding savings, and that is why we have been able today to restrict the scale of the fare increases."
"Even when these rises come into effect, from January, average bus fares will be 10 per cent lower than in 2000, and Tube fares have not kept pace with the rise in earnings. The simple fact is that in a bitter recession, and with such huge pressure on public finances, we cannot keep providing a service at a price so far below cost."
The mayor adds that he has been urged to abolish the free travel afforded to certain groups - but that he resisted doing so:
"With almost 40 per cent of bus passengers allowed to travel for free, I have of course been urged to take those benefits away. I have been told that 60 is too young to have the right to 24-hour free travel. I have been advised that we should take back free travel for kids. I disagree. I believe those concessions are valued by Londoners of all ages. Together with our help for those on income support and those in search of work those schemes are especially important now, in a recession, and I will not take them away."
"Having cut costs to the bone, having begun the painful process of shedding thousands of employees, we are then faced with a clear choice. We could flunk the test, and expand the black hole in TfL's finances. We could cancel vital infrastructure projects and do long-term damage to the prospects of this city. We could impose new charges on the young, the old and those on benefits. It is obvious that none of those options is right for this city. That is why I am today announcing a package of measures that is fair, that protects the vulnerable, and will allow us to get on with the vital infrastructure investment we need."