Sadiq Khan, Labour’s candidate for mayor, says Tory rival Zac Goldsmith has a “secret plan to hike fares” which would see some commuters pay an additional £1,000 over the next mayoral term.
Over the past two weeks Mr Khan’s campaign has been attempting to play down a series of news reports citing Transport for London claims that his own promise to freeze fares would cost almost four times the £450m price tag cited by Labour.
Khan has repeatedly denied that TfL has made any such intervention and earlier this week lost his temper when a BBC journalist corrected him on this point.
The TfL numbers have been seized on by Mr Goldsmith who has sought to use them to support his central campaign message that a Khan mayoralty would be a “dangerous experiment” which the capital’s voters cannot afford.
Goldsmith has claimed that reducing TfL’s fares income would endanger a series of planned network upgrades and expansions and so threaten the viability of new homes which are expected to be built around the new transport links.
Mr Khan says that by using the TfL figures as a basis for his attacks, Goldsmith has accepted the agency’s assumption of above-inflation fares increases each year of the next mayoral term.
As a result, Khan says his rival would oversee a series of fares hikes which would cost bus and tram users an extra £393 over the next four years and see commuters in Zone 5 and 6 pay more than £1,000 extra over the period.
Mr Khan commented: “Zac Goldsmith has a secret plan to hike travel costs for all Londoners by up to £1,095.
“Commuters will pay thousands more because of Zac Goldsmith’s fare hikes – just as they’ve paid thousands more because of Boris Johnson’s fare hikes.
“The choice at this election has never been clearer: a fully funded plan to freeze fares under me, or more massive fare hikes under Zac Goldsmith.”
Mr Khan’s claims of a “secret plan” to hike fares is a direct repetition of a tactic deployed by former Mayor Ken Livingstone during the 2012 campaign when he visited Baker Street, home to the legendary fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, in a search of Boris Johnson’s “secret plan to increase Londoners’ fares”.
A spokesperson for Mr Goldsmith dismissed Khan’s attack, saying: “Zac is standing up for Londoners and his Action Plan for Greater London will improve the capacity and reliability of London’s transport system.
“Khan’s experiment on London’s transport network – which handles 24 million journeys a day – would leave a £1.9 billion black hole in TfL’s budget that could only be filled by cancelling essential tube improvements, hiking Council Tax to new levels, or cutting the police budget to the bone.”