Londoners are set to discover later today whether how much their fares will increase next year.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson is set to announce the fares package for 2010 on Thursday morning. Last year he announced an increase of 6% and increased the single Oyster Pay as You Go bus trip from 90p to £1, although he also extended his predecessor’s half-price Oyster permit scheme to those on Income Support.
Announcing last year’s increases Johnson sought to blame the “largesse” of former Mayor Ken Livingstone who he accused of overseeing an “irresponsible pre-election fares freeze” which, he said, had resulted in a budget shortfall of £80m. Critics blamed the shortfall on Johnson’s decision to scrap revenue raising schemes such as the £25 CO2 Charge.
The Mayor has been under pressure from opposition politicians to announce the new fares as he attempts to plug holes in Transport for London’s finances.
Last week he was criticised for confirming plans to freeze the Greater London Authority’s portion of the council tax for the second year running without telling Londoners how much they’ll be paying to use the transport network.
At the time Caroline Pidgeon, the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Transport Spokesperson, said: “While the Mayor boasts about freezing his section of the council tax from April 2010 he remains silent over fares which are a far bigger bill for most Londoners.”
Speaking on Wednesday night Pidgeon said any increase in fares would be “a slap in the face for the millions of Londoners who will be seeing no increase in their pay packets this year.”
Speaking ahead of Johnson’s announcement, Mr Livingstone said: “When Boris Johnson was elected he inherited healthy TfL reserves, plans for a new charge on gas guzzlers, and a well-established congestion charge zone that brought in much-needed revenue, but since that time, through ideologically-driven policies to put polluters ahead of public transport users, London’s transport finances have been left to slide. It is no joke for London.”
Earlier this week the Mayor published his Draft Transport Strategy which sets out his vision for the capital’s transport services.