Credit card firm MBNA has struck a 12 month deal to sponsor London’s “iconic” Tube maps.
The deal includes branding on the 1,300 maps displayed across the network plus 28 million pocket maps and is part of Transport for London’s strategy to boost income from commercial ventures and partnerships to around £3.4bn.
Graeme Craig, Director of Commercial Development at TfL, said: “Sponsorship is a key part of TfL’s commercial activities, generating revenues that we can reinvest back into our transport network to make journeys better for everyone and also to bear down on fares.”
TfL says the deal is worth “around £800,000”.
Gareth Bacon, budget spokesman for the Conservative group on the London Assembly and an advocate of greater sponsorship on the Tube, said: “On the face of it this deal to sponsor the tube map is good news for taxpayers and passengers alike.
“Having accepted the principle that sponsorship on the tube is feasible and desirable, TfL should now capitalise on the precedent they have set and push on with actively seeking sponsorship for some of our major stations and inviting expressions of interest from firms.
“Private sector cash can help bear down on passenger fares and contribute to vital transport infrastructure projects such as 4G and step free access.”
Labour’s Transport Spokesperson, Val Shawcross AM, said: “Sensible steps to diversify TfL’s income base are very welcome, particularly if the additional money can be used to help keep fares down.
“We must remember though that Mayor and TfL have a chequered history when it comes to big sponsorship deals. The cycle hire deal with Barclays for example was meant to pay for the whole project with no cost to the taxpayer yet now we see Barclays pulling out early and by 2015 it will have cost the public £183m. TfL need to be clear that the deals they do are both sustainable and in the best interest of Londoners.
“I hope TfL will also call upon MBNA’s expert knowledge to help iron out the irregularities between Oyster and Contactless payments on the tube. Boris Johnson made a cast-iron pledge that Oyster cards would always be the cheapest way to travel yet the bonus discounts given to Contactless users mean Oyster card passengers could be paying more.”