Ken Livingstone has launched the transport policies he hopes will secure him a third term as Mayor of London.
In addition to the previously announced £25 a day congestion charge, Livingstone has promised drivers the option of having payments automatically debited from their account whenever they enter the congestion charge zone.
There was also a vow to increase in support for door-to-door services for older and disabled Londoners including free fares on the Dial-a-Ride service.
In the wake of favourable media coverage for his own figures Livingstone used the launch to repeat criticism of the claimed £8m cost to reintroduce conductors and replace the bendy bus by Conservative rival Boris Johnson.
Highlighting a number of highly priced initiatives including the £16 billion Crossrail project and work on the new London Overground service Mr Livingstone said he would be “running on my record of successfully delivering major improvements in London’s transport system.”
“As already shown in an incredible £100 million a year error in Johnson’s transport manifesto, there are risks not only of a transport but a financial disaster for London from incompetence in running the transport system.”
But there was criticism of the row between between the frontrunners from Liberal Democrat Mayoral candidate, Brian Paddick who said the pair “are both wrong”. Paddick said “instead of bickering over the cost of bringing back routemasters we should be looking forward to real solutions to London’s transport crisis.”
“What we need is a clean, fast and reliable mass transport system that can carry twice as many people as the bendy bus: London needs trams.”
Livingstone also said he would provide “a Veterans Card giving free travel on public transport including bus, tube, DLR and Croydon Tramlink to London residents who are injured veterans of the armed services” – a policy previously been advocated by Boris Johnson.
Speaking at this morning’s launch Mr Livingstone made a commitment to improve safety on the capital’s roads saying “We have made great progress in reducing the number of adults and children killed on London’s roads over the last eight years.”
“I am committed to sustained that progress using new camera technology to extend 20 mph zones around schools and on residential streets.”
Mr Johnson said “with less than 8 weeks to go before the election, Mayor Livingstone has again turned to making promises on transport to try to save his job. The problem is that we’ve heard it all before from this Mayor – inflated promises before an election which are broken straight after.”
Johnson cited a recent report by the Department of Transport – ‘Transport Statistics for Great Britain, 30 October 2007’ – to back up his claim that “bus fares have risen faster in London than elsewhere in Britain; since Ken Livingstone became Mayor, fares are up by more than 29 per cent.”
However the report also show that Mr Livingstone’s tenure in office has seen a marked growth in bus use. In 1999/00 1,294 million journeys were undertaken by bus, up to 1,993 million in 2006/07.