Behind fares fury: is TfL going to get a shake up after May?
31 March 2016, Blog
In different parts of the city yesterday at 9.30am, Sadiq Khan and Zac Goldsmith announced their Transport Policies. Their war of words centred on tube fares.
With 24 million journeys made using TfL services each day by Londoners it is no wonder the cost of travel is an issue. Ever since Ken Livingstone’s 1981 Fares Fair scheme cut the cost of a journey by a third, fare prices have been central to London politics.
Sadiq Khan said that he will freeze fares at current levels and has claimed that Zac Goldsmith will increase fares by 17% over four years. His central message is an updated version of the standard Labour attack that the Tory ‘son of a billionaire’ is out of touch with ordinary people.
Zac Goldsmith says that Sadiq Khan will create a £1.9 billion black hole. His central message is an update on the standard Tory attack, that ‘Corbyn-Khan’ Labour can’t be trusted with public money.
Goldsmith did not say outright yesterday that he would increase fares. Khan did not say he would spend £1.9 billion without corresponding savings.
TfL are projecting 17% increase in fares going forward and Khan’s attack is based on the tacit acceptance of the TfL budget plans by Goldsmith. Goldsmith says that Khan cannot pay for a fare freeze within the TfL existing budget.
Underneath the rhetoric there is simple difference. Goldsmith by and large seems to accept the way TfL is run while Khan does not.
The Mayor of London is Chair of TfL. Under eight years of Boris Johnson, TFL senior management have largely run their own show without a great deal of Mayoral direction.
Khan has accused TfL of being “flabby” and pointed to the jump in senior executives earning over £100,000 from 326 to 413 in one year in a time of public sector restraint, and to the “unrepresentative” nature of the 16 member board of which 13 are white men.
Putting aside the rhetoric around fares, the more interesting question is whether after May we will have a London Mayor that will see his role as ‘hands on’ in running TfL or a continuation of the current approach.
Paul Smith, Senior Counsel