Labour has accused ministers of “scaling back” investment in London’s transport network just as passenger numbers have risen to an all-time high.
Last Friday the Tube had its busiest day ever with 4.82 million passengers and the city’s growing population and continued popularity as a tourism destination is expected to see passenger numbers continue to grow over the next decade.
Although a number of projects which should help meet some of this extra demand are now underway, Labour’s transport spokesperson at City Hall says the Government’s decision to stop underwriting some of Transport for London’s day to day running costs threatens future upgrades.
The move will reduce the government’s financial support for TfL by around £700m per year from 2018, forcing the organisation to rely wholly on fares revenue and the proceeds of commercial ventures to meet its operational costs.
Labour’s Val Shawcross said: “By cutting £700m from TfL’s budget in the Spending Review the Government seems to be scaling back its support for vital investment in the capital’s transport system despite its rapidly growing population and workforce.
“When record breaking passenger numbers are met with some of the biggest cuts in TfL’s history it’s clear there is a real problem.
“London’s transport network is a key selling point for the capital resulting in economic growth which brings massive benefits to the whole UK. Government should be doing all it can to keep the capital moving and ease overcrowding, not saddling TfL with hundreds of millions of pounds in draconian cuts. ”
Conservatives say her comments undermine promises by Labour’s mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan to cut the cost of travel if he succeeds Boris Johnson next year.
The Tooting MP has pledged to cut bus fares in the first year of his mayoralty followed by a three year freeze and to freeze Underground, DLR and Overground fares for the full four years.
Mr Khan says the policy, which City Hall estimates would reduce fares income by around £2bn over the next Mayoral term, can be “paid for out of existing TfL budgets and efficiencies.”
However Tory rival Zac Goldsmith’s campaign says Ms Shawcross’s warnings about the Government’s £700m cut undermines those claims.
A spokesperson said: “Labour’s own transport spokeswoman shows why Corbyn’s candidate cannot be trusted with London’s finances.
“He is proposing to cut £1.8bn from the TfL budget by freezing fares and in doing so he is putting at risk the Tube upgrades that Londoners need, at a time when it is more important than ever to keep control of the transport budget.”