Transport bosses have been urged to review their mobile phone contracts after Freedom of Information requests revealed they offer worse value than standard consumer deals available on the high street.
Earlier this year an FOI request submitted by MayorWatch revealed that Transport for London’s corporate contract with O2 includes no inclusive minutes.
This means each call to numbers outside the organisation is charged, resulting in members of TfL’s senior management incurring hundreds of pounds of call charges each month.
In February transport commissioner Sir Peter Hendy ran up £525.61 of outgoing calls, while in June 2013 head of surface transport Leon Daniels’ bill reached £1,390.
Between May 2013 and February 2014 Mr Daniels’ bills were frequently more than £100, while Sir Peter’s routinely cost taxpayers more than £400.
Responses sent last week in response to separate FOI requests from Labour London Assembly member Val Shawcross and MayorWatch show members of TfL’s lower management ranks also regularly spend more than £100 per month on calls.
David Waboso, TfL’s Capital Programmes Director, is one of the biggest spenders with bills of more than £200 and, in two separate months, £400.
The figures compare to a monthly mobile phone bill of around £15-20 each for Mayor Boris Johnson, London Assembly members and their staff.
In a previous FOI response TfL said a benchmarking exercise had confirmed the contract, worth around £2.5m, provided better value than other providers were able to offer. It also insisted staff were moved between tariffs to ensure good value.
However the commonly charged line rental of £16.50pm, which includes no free minutes outside of TfL numbers, compares poorly with tariffs available elsewhere.
A consumer with no bulk buying power can spend as little as £18 per and receive unlimited minutes and texts with a new Blackberry handset, and in recent weeks O2 has launched a new £10 per month tariff for the public sector which includes a new smartphone, unlimited calls and texts, and 1GB of 4G data use.
Mrs Shawcross has written to Sir Peter urging him to review TfL’s existing contract in light of the better deals available on the market and has asked why TfL is apparently failing to use its spending power to achieve better value for taxpayers.
In her letter, she says: “With Londoners having had to deal with inflation-busting fare rises for five years in a row to meet the cost of our transport system, it is shocking that some of TfL senior management’s phones are costing the taxpayer so much.
“We are constantly reminded of the need to drive efficiency within TfL, but anyone can walk into a high street shop and pick up a phone on a deal for much less than these contracts are costing.
“With huge bulk buying potential, TfL should be delivering much better value for money for the taxpayer.
“I hope you will take this opportunity to review these contracts, let me know if you believe that they are value for money and also explain why TfL cannot procure cheaper mobile phone packages like thousands of Londoners do every single day.”
In addition to their high spending on mobiles, TfL bosses claim hundreds of pounds in expenses for meals and hospitality while they and their families enjoy generous private medical cover paid for by fare payers.
Sir Peter’s expenses disclosures also show that he’s spent thousands of pounds on taxis between meetings.