Sadiq Khan has admitted he could have frozen Travelcards despite previously insisting such a move would be beyond his powers.
During last year’s Mayoral election Mr Khan wrote about the sacrifices some Londoners are forced to make when the cost of a Travelcard goes up. He also pledged that Londoners wouldn’t “pay a penny more” for their journey when he faces reelection in 2020 than they do today.
Every time the cost of a travelcard goes up, for many Londoners it means cutting back on food, heating or even clothing their children. Even for Londoners on decent incomes there’s less money left at the end of the month to save for a deposit, let alone enjoy London.
Sadiq Khan, The Evening Standard 4 January 2016
However within weeks of his election, the Mayor disappointed thousands of Londoners by announcing his fares freeze would only apply to single Transport for London fares, and would exclude Travelcards and daily and weekly caps on Oyster and Contactless.
Quizzed by London Assembly members about the gap between his election rhetoric and his actions in office, Mr Khan has repeatedly insisted that capping Travelcards would exceed his powers.
Unlike TfL fares, Travelcards prices are set jointly by the Mayor and train operators and any move to freeze them would require either the firms’ agreement or for TfL to compensate them for lost revenue.
Last week the Mayor’s claims that this would exceed his powers were undermined by a TfL briefing document released to this site last week which revealed the agency had briefed him on the cost of including the popular season tickets in his freeze.
City Hall initially brushed off suggestions that the document was at odds with Mr Khan’s stance, insisting that he had delivered his manifesto commitment in full.
However Mr Khan has now admitted that he could have frozen fares for all public transport users.
Questioned by ITV London about the briefing document, he conceded that “hypothetically speaking it’s possible for a Mayor to write a blank cheque for anybody” but claimed it would have been “ridiculous and absurd” to give taxpayer money to rail firms who are letting down passengers.
Conservatives at City Hall say the Mayor’s admission proves he made a deliberate choice to let Travelcard prices keep rising during his term.