Sadiq Khan, the newly elected Mayor of London, has confirmed that bus passengers will be able to switch buses at no extra cost from September.
City Hall says a new ‘Hopper’ fare will allow passengers who uses pay as you go on Oyster or contactless payment cards to make an additional bus journey for free within one hour of touching in on the first bus.
The Hopper was a key pledge promised by Mr Khan during the election. Similar policies were promised by other candidates and Liberal Democrats repeatedly urged former Mayor Boris Johnson to adopt the measure.
Mayor Khan said: “My dad drove the number 44 bus and transport in London has always been a big part of my life.
“The cost of a fare in London has risen for eight years in a row and now that I’m Mayor I am determined to prevent the cost of travel from becoming a barrier to work.
“The ‘Hopper’ fare will make life cheaper and easier for millions of Londoners, and will help ensure that everyone will be able to afford to travel around the city.
‘It is just the start of my plan to ensure that travelling around London is affordable for everyone, a commitment that includes a freeze on TfL fares for four years – benefiting millions of people.”
Technology limitations mean it’s not possible to offer unlimited bus journeys within the hour but City Hall says planned technology upgrades will allow this to happen by the end of 2018.
According to Transport for London, around 86 million passengers currently make another bus journey within one hour.
The Mayor’s office said his new fare will be of particular benefit Londoners on lower incomes who tend use the bus network to get around.
London’s Transport Commissioner, Mike Brown, said: “This new option will benefit a huge number of our passengers. For many people catching more than one bus is the only way they can get from A to B.
“This fare will enable us to better meet the needs of those Londoners who live or work in areas which aren’t as well served by Tube or rail services.”
Responding to today’s announcement Caroline Pidgeon, Liberal Democrat London Assembly Member, said: “The Liberal Democrats have been campaigning for a One Hour Bus Ticket for the best part of a decade in London.
“I welcome our policy being adopted by London’s new mayor and hope that he will go further and also implement our policy for half price travel for journeys on the transport network before 7.30am.”
Conservatives on the Assembly have called on the mayor and TfL to say how the new concession will be funded and to confirm whether the existing day cap will be retained.
Assembly member Keith Prince commented: “Clearly Londoners will initially welcome a change that would appear to save them money.
“However TfL’s long-held position has been that a one-hour bus ticket only made sense as a replacement for the daily cap. Londoners deserve confirmation that the £4.50/day cap will not be scrapped.
“In addition, TfL confirmed in October that the one hour bus ticket would cost £50 million per year. Mayor Khan should make clear what he will be cutting in order to finance this change. If he refuses then we can be clear that this change will cost us all more in the long run.”
A City Hall spokesperson confirmed that there are “no plans to remove the day cap” and disputed Mr Prince’s figures, saying the cost of implementing the Hopper would be £30m a year “which will be met through more efficient working within TfL.”