Tory mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith has claimed that the fares policy and ministerial record of Labour rival Sadiq Khan pose a threat to some concessionary travel schemes enjoyed by older Londoners.
All persons aged 65 or older are entitled to a Freedom Pass which allows them to travel for free on all Transport for London and most National Rail services within the capital.
More than a million Older Londoners currently hold a Freedom Pass, with a further 153,000 cards used by disabled and mobility impaired Londoners.
The pass, which is operated and funded by London’s 32 local councils, is protected by law and there are no government plans to amend or axe the scheme.
However Mr Goldsmith claims his rival’s pledge to freeze fares would jeopardise a separate scheme which allows those aged between 60 and 64 to travel for free.
The pass, known as the 60+ London Oyster photocard, was introduced by Mayor Boris Johnson after the last Labour government raised the entitlement age for the Freedom Pass to 65.
Running this scheme costs Transport for London around £20m per year with the capital’s transport agency also picking up the cost of allowing Freedom Pass holders to use TfL services before 9.30am.
Unlike the core Freedom Pass scheme, both the 60+ London Oyster photocard and free travel before 9.30am are discretionary and Goldsmith claims they could be under threat by Mr Khan’s fares pledge.
The Labour candidate says his freeze would reduce TfL’s fares income by around £450m over the mayoral term, although the Tory campaign claims the figure is closer to £2bn.
Mr Goldsmith has suggested his rival could need to axe both discretionary schemes in order to fund his fares policy and has highlighted the fact that when Khan was a Transport minister he slashed funding for concessionary travel in London.
Pledging to maintain all concessionary schemes, Mr Goldsmith said: “As Mayor, I will work with the boroughs to protect these travel rights for Greater London’s over 60s who rely on our transport system to get around.
“Sadiq Khan’s union bought transport policy would see £2 billion cut from the budget, putting things like the Freedom Pass at risk.
“If we allow Jeremy Corbyn’s chaos and incompetence to be played out at City Hall, the result will be a Freedom Pass at risk. We must not let that happen.”
In November Mr Khan described the Freedom Pass scheme as “a lifeline for more than a million Londoners” and promised: “If I’m Mayor, the Freedom Pass stays.”