Labour mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan has suggested some bus routes could be brought in-house if he’s elected mayor.
Although fares, timetables and service levels are set by Transport for London, individual routes are currently operated by private companies who bid against each another through the agency’s tender process.
If elected in May, Mr Khan says he would order a full review of the tendering process to ensure it delivers best value for Londoners and suggests this could see TfL operating some routes in-house rather than franchising them out.
TfL last operated bus routes in-house in 2009 prior to the sale of East Thames Buses by current Mayor Boris Johnson.
The company was formed in 1999 to take over services operated by the failed Harris Bus company and was retained by TfL to ensure it could quickly take over further routes should any other operator fail and so avoid disruption to passengers.
This capability was put to good use in 2002 when East Thames stepped in to operate routes 42 and 185 following the collapse of London Easylink.
Mr Johnson’s decision to sell the company was widely criticised by opposition parties on the London Assembly who complained that it would harm TfL’s ability to benchmark the bids it received from private operators, potentially reducing value for money.
Khan has also pledged to make TfL more commercial by allowing it to bid to run services in other cities, both in the UK and overseas.
The Labour hopeful said the agency was currently providing advice “pro-bono” and helping other transport agencies “informally” but that he would use its expertise to bring in revenues “for the benefit of Londoners”.
Mr Khan was speaking to MayorWatch following a major speech in which he set out his vision for the capital: