Ken Livingstone has issued an open email to Conservative rival Boris Johnson as the row over the cost of introducing new buses with conductors looks set to become a defining feature of the 2008 Mayoral elections.
Last week Johnson unveiled detailed his policies for the future of transport in the capital including a proposal to replace bendy buses with a new generation of Routemasters staffed by conductors. Mr Johnson claimed the cost of this policy would be £8m, a figure the Mayor says is £100m below the likely final cost.
The email sent today sets a number of questions for Johnson to which Livingstone says Londoners “have a right to know” the answers.
Mr Livingstone said he had “written to Boris Johnson to ask how many of his new super-expensive buses he pledges to introduce so that Londoners can know the true cost of Boris Johnson’s disastrous transport policies.
The full text of his email reads:
You pledged on the Vanessa Feltz show on 28 February to replace slightly under 400 articulated buses with new buses with conductors. However there are 5,000 double-decker and bendy buses in London. How many of these 5,000 do you intend to replace with new buses with conductors?
As this will determine the cost of your policy the voters of London have a right to know before they vote on 1 May and I therefore hope you will send a clear answer at once.
Speaking today Mr Livingstone said: “Boris Johnson’s transport manifesto is in the situation of the Titanic after it hit the iceberg – it’s certain the ship is going to sink and the only question that remains is whether it will take one hour or two and how many will go down with it.”
“This is the inevitable result of Boris Johnson’s incredible £100 million pound a year minimum underestimate of how much his flagship policy of reintroducing new buses with conductors is going to cost.”