London’s Mayor Ken Livingstone has repeated his recent attack on Conservative Assembly Member Roger Evans over the issue of free bus travel in the capital.
In a recent entry on his blog Ealing Councillor Phil Taylor commented:
“Most people would see the Freedom Pass (free travel for disabled people and those over 60) as a good thing. Much of it probably is but few people understand the cost (£213 million in the last financial year), see link.”
“The public debate and subsequent decisions about such benefits need to take place in the context of a full understanding of the costs. The Mayor is a great one for talking about freebies but not admitting how much they cost. The cost of this scheme is the equivalent of running two large general hospitals.
I for one would argue that much of this resource should be re-targeted at the very old who can’t even physically get on a bus. There are few people who are in work or on good pensions who would strongly argue that they should be the recipients of this largesse.”
In response Mr Evans commented:
“Oyster provides the technology to calculate how much each card is used and on which journeys. So if the charge was levied on that basis boroughs would be paying the true cost of their residents travel, rather than an impost to TfL.”
This afternoon the Mayor’s press office issued a statement claiming the comments were “the latest of a series of threats to free travel schemes in London.”
Mr Livingstone also claimed the comments made by Councillor Taylor were “code for huge cuts which would hit hundreds of thousands of London older Londoners and disabled people, many of whom rely on the Freedom Pass to get to the shops and see family and friends.”
However Mr Evans said his proposal “would simply ensure that taxpayers pay for what they get” adding “how that equates to an attack on free travel beats me.”