Conservatives on the London Assembly have called on Mayor Boris Johnson and Transport for London to consider subsidising fares with new forms of sponsorship.
In a new report they suggest TfL and the Mayor consider allowing companies to sponsor tube stations and recommend that partnerships be sought with firms already associated with particular stations, such as Harrod’s and Knightsbridge station.
TfL are also urged to consider selling naming rights to new stations, a development the report says would be more attractive to brands than renaming an existing station.
It’s claimed that sponsorship could raise the estimated £204 million needed to fund a three year fares freeze.
Launching the report, Assembly Member Gareth Bacon said: “Sponsorship is big business. It gives public transport bosses a massive opportunity to generate money without burdening Londoners with higher fares. Transport For London (TfL) is well behind the curve on this one.
“We have the potential to command tens, if not hundreds of millions of pounds through sponsorship deals on stations, lines, trains and bus routes. Sponsorship is already used on metro systems across the word in places like Madrid, Dubai and New York.
“TfL must follow in these footsteps if London’s transport network is to remain as one of the best too.”
Labour Assembly Members said the report confirmed their claims that fares were too high.
Transport spokeswoman Val Shawcross AM said: “I’m pleased that the Conservatives on the London Assembly have finally realised that Londoners are struggling with the Mayor’s above inflation fare rises.”
She added that Labour would “need to look carefully at the Conservative Group’s sponsorship proposals” but said there was the potential for “massive reputational risk” in the event that “a future sponsor failed to pay their tax or employed people in unsafe and degrading conditions.”
Liberal Democrats on the Assembly pointed to TfL’s record of delivering insufficient levels of sponsorship to cover the costs of the cycle hire scheme and cable car, both initially promised to developed at no cost to taxpayers.
Group leader Caroline Pidgeon AM said: “The Mayor of London promised Londoners before he was first elected that the bike hire scheme would be entirely funded by sponsorship and that not a penny of taxpayer’s money would be needed. Three years on that has turned out to be totally untrue. Similar claims were made about the Thames cable car.”
“Of course more income can be generated from sponsorship and income across Transport for London’s vast network, but let’s be realistic the Conservative Mayor of London has failed to deliver to date.”