Labour mayoral candidate will freeze fares and invest in modern transport
For eight years in a row the cost of a ticket in London has gone up – hurting Londoners and our city’s economy. It is now more expensive to commute in London than in any other city in the world.
Since 2008 fare hikes have cost Londoners thousands of pounds. If you commute from Zone 6 to Zone 1 you have paid an extra £3,351.
These increases have hurt all Londoners, whatever their income, but particularly those on lower incomes who often have to travel further into work every day because of the cost of housing. Every time the cost of a travelcard goes up, for many Londoners it means cutting back on food, heating or even clothing for their kids.
It needn’t be like this. Under my leadership there would be a cash freeze across all TfL fares for the full four years of my mayoral term of office. You won’t pay a penny more in 2020 than you do now.
My new ‘Hopper’ bus ticket will help as well, allowing Londoners to change buses as many times as they need within one hour, for the cost of a single fare.
The Tories will use dodgy figures to say my plans are not affordable but the truth is it’s just a question of priorities. What we can’t afford is a public transport system that prices more and more Londoners off tubes and buses. So I’ll make some difficult decisions to fund the freeze.
One way I’ll do this is to end Boris Johnson’s habit of using Londoners’ money to fund expensive vanity projects like the Emirates Cable Car and the exorbitant ‘new Routemaster’ buses. I’ll prioritise more affordable and more environmentally friendly buses – and invest the savings to keep fares down.
There are also efficiencies I’ll make from day one like cracking down on the fare evasion that cost Londoners £61million last year. At many stations, ticket barriers are left open way too often – more than 60 per cent of the time at Bromley-by-Bow last year.
I’ll make major efficiency savings within TfL itself, cutting duplication and waste in back office operations, and reducing the overuse of consultants and agency staff. TfL spent a staggering £383million on consultants and agency staff last year. At the very least that could be cut in half.
I’ll also look at merging TfL’s engineering functions, which are inexplicably split into separate operations for the Underground and surface transport. By sharing back room costs and combining their buying power, we can save millions to reinvest in keeping fares down.
Cuts alone will not build a modern and affordable transport system. We need to create more long-term sources of revenue to invest.
We can learn from the state-owned companies from France, Germany and Holland which run train and bus services across the UK, reinvesting the profits to keep fares down in their home countries.
There is no reason TfL shouldn’t do the same. We should be running buses and trains across the UK and the rest of the world, selling expertise and skills like engineering to the public and private sector.
I won’t stop there. I’ll create a major new income stream for TfL by making better use of land. I estimate TfL owns 600 acres across London that could be developed for housing. Under my plan, we’ll retain ownership of the land but build the truly affordable homes Londoners need and create a new regular source of income that we can use to keep fares down.
This will also help crack the housing crisis, building homes for Londoners rather than overseas investors.
As mayor, I’ll finally get the Night Tube open and reduce the number of tube strikes by making TfL get round the table and negotiate a solution with the trade unions. The number of tube strikes has more than doubled under Boris Johnson – with 35 since he became mayor compared to 16 in the previous eight years. Londoners need a Labour mayor to end the gridlock and put a stop to these strikes.
Londoners have a clear choice in May’s election. Unlike Zac Goldsmith, I have the values, experience and vision to deliver the modern and affordable transport system Londoners deserve.
Sadiq Khan is MP for Tooting and Labour’s candidate for mayor of LondonLike this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.