Conservative members of the London Assembly have renewed calls for the Mayor and Transport for London to introduce sponsorship of Tube stations.
The group say money raised from selling naming rights could be used to limit fares increases.
Last month Mayor Boris Johnson claimed it would cost £4m to rebrand a single station and said he would only consider introducing sponsorship for “a very significant amount” of money.
Costs listed by the Mayor include £500 for ticket office posters, £150,000 for updating TfL’s website and the Journey Planner and £30,000 for staff “to manage the process and all approvals with stakeholders and sponsor”.
The Conservative Assembly group have dismissed the figures as “spurious” and say they’re contradicted by the £8,500 cost to change signage when Blackfriars station closed between 2009-2012.
A feasibility study published by the group today claims sponsorship could bring “huge benefits” to passengers, in addition to helping keep fares down.
The study says companies could “pay for or significantly contribute towards” the cost of adding mobile phone connectivity, TV news screens, ramps, toilets and water fountains to the Tube network.
It also suggests companies might be interested in sponsoring specific upgrades, for example paying to install a lift or covering the cost of deep cleaning a station.
Conservative AMs want the Mayor to instruct TfL to “proactively” solicit sponsorship bids and for them to factor potential deals into future upgrade projects and costs.
By securing private sector money to cover work which would otherwise be paid for with public funds, the report says TfL could cut its operating costs and deliver better value to fare-payers.
Gareth Bacon AM, author of the feasibility study said: “As the Mayor is about to make another announcement on fare increases, it is time he forced TfL to seriously consider costed and realistic ways to bear down on passenger fares. In addition to helping curb fares, tube sponsorship can help revolutionise the tube system for Londoners.
“More so, it is ludicrous that TfL is currently splashing out millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money on expensive projects without even considering bringing in the private sector to help foot the bill.
“TfL need to stop exaggerating their costs, which simply do not stack up. Instead, they should look to minimise costs wherever possible, for example by structuring contracts in such a way that these costs are part of the sponsorship deal.”
Commenting on the study document, Graeme Craig, TfL’s Director of Commercial Development, said: “We are, and always have been, open for business and have taken advice from IMG, the biggest sponsorship agency in the world, on what sponsors would be prepared to pay. The Mayor has always said that the sponsorship of Tube stations and other assets can happen if the sponsor is appropriate and the price right.
“We are already securing £3.5bn in commercial revenue in the coming years to reinvest in improving transport for customers. This builds on the successful sponsorship deals we’ve already done with Barclays, Emirates and Virgin Media.
“We are always interested, of course, in talking to potential sponsors about how we keep these to an absolute minimum, however, we would also have to take into consideration the impact it would have on our advertising estate which generates over £100m each year.”