Incumbent Mayor and Labour Candidate in this May’s elections Ken Livingstone has pledged to extend the Freedom Pass scheme to allow holders to travel 24 hours a day on London’s buses, tube, rail network and trams.
At present the scheme, which provides free travel to disabled Londoners and those over sixty, operates from 9am.
Livingstone says that if re-elected he would ensure within the first twelve months of his next term that the Freedom Pass will operate 24 hours a day, promising to finance the extension by Transport for London.
Mr Livingstone said “everyone should be able to take part in London’s success. Four out of five Londoners over the age of 60 are retired but they regularly tell me that because of appointments, trips and other issues they need to travel before 9am. Extending the operating hours of the Freedom Pass across the whole day will give these Londoners 24 hour flexibility to travel free with the Freedom Pass.”
“This policy is part of my central goal of ensuring that London’s public transport system is reliable and open to every Londoner.”
According to figures issued by the Livingstone campaign the cost of extending the scheme to 24 hours a day will be £20million, compared to TfL annual revenue of nearly £2.5 billion. Mr Livingstone said on the basis of current strong TfL revenues no increase in fares at all will be required to ensure older and disabled Londoners benefit from the extension of use of the Freedom Pass.
The pledge has been welcomed by pensioners’ campaigner and former president of the National Pensioners Convention Rodney Bickerstaffe who said: “This is a great step forward. Yet again the Mayor has led the way in London – now we would like the rest of the nation to follow.”