London Mayor Sadiq Khan has today formalised his promised fares freeze, meaning the cost of travel on services controlled by Transport for London will remain the same over the next four years.
The freeze was a major part of Mr Khan’s election manifesto and was popular with many Londoners who’d seen the cost of travel rise each year under his predecessor, Boris Johnson.
However some commentators, transport experts and political opponents claim the policy risks depriving TfL of much needed money while the agency is also having to absorb funding cuts from central government.
Mr Khan maintains that efficiency savings and greater commercial activity by TfL will enable it to raise sufficient money by other means, although the Mayor’s decision to order the sale of TfL-owned land below market value could undermine this ambition.
The Mayor had already announced that his fares freeze would be implemented but today published the formal Mayoral Direction giving the policy legal force.
As a result the cost of Pay as you go (PAYG) journeys on the Tube, DLR, Emirates Airline and rail services where TfL fares apply will be frozen.
However Travelcard prices, which are partly set by non-TfL train companies, will continue to rise and the mayor’s Direction leaves scope for the daily Oyster and Contactless cap to rise in future years.
Publishing his instruction to TfL, Mr Khan said: “After years of huge fare increases for London passengers, I’m delighted to be formally announcing our plans to freeze TfL fares across London’s transport network.
“Our TfL fares freeze will save an average household £200 over the next four years, putting money back into people’s pockets and playing an important role encouraging more Londoners onto public transport.”
Mr Khan has also called on the Government to step in and freeze fares on London’s suburban rail routes “where passengers have been hit by unacceptable delays, cancellations and overcrowding.”
Liberal Democrat London Assembly Member, Caroline Pidgeon, has accused the Mayor of delivering less than he promised Londoners when seeking their votes.
She said: “Sadiq Khan’s manifesto specifically said that Londoners won’t pay a penny more for their travel in 2020 than they do today. There were no ifs, or buts, in that statement.”
“However much the Mayor attempts to spin the issue his announcement today confirms that many Londoners will see their travelcards and their PAYG caps on travelcards increase next year.”
Meanwhile Conservative AM Keith Prince claimed the policy would leave TfL “with a £640million black hole in its budget”.
He added: “Sadiq Khan has so far been unable to provide any answers as to how he intends to cover the cost of this vane gesture, making his pledge meaningless.
“Some Londoners may well avoid a small increase in their travel costs in the short term, but in the long term all of us will pay for this disastrous policy.”