Ken Livingstone has used another Comment is Free article to renew his attacks on what he clearly sees as a co-ordinated Conservative Party policy to end free bus travel in the capital.
It’s certainly possible to see how the collective weight of comment on the concessions may look to some like an attack on them. Equally the critics might argue that this is simply a case of wholly unconnected comments being made to look like a co-ordinated attack for political advantage.
Opponents of the concessions argue that they are far from ‘free’ as paying passengers subsidise the costs of the scheme. Of course they’re right – it’s an economic fact that any public service provided at no cost to one citizen is paid for by another.
However many would consider that such funding arrangements are the price of living in a civilised society and the level of use has never had any relevance to one’s obligation to fund public services.
In his Comment is Free article the Mayor highlights the fact that London has enjoyed an unmatched growth in bus passenger numbers.
He’s being slightly modest here, last year a Parliamentary report found that â€œLondon has seen bus usage increase by 32% over recent yearsâ€ and urged Ministers and officials at the Department of Transport to â€œidentify what factors have been critical for success in London, and how far they might be replicated in the other regions to stimulate the desired expansion.â€
The report concluded that â€œThe Mayor is to be congratulated on his success in increasing bus usage in Londonâ€.
It’s a pity that the current debate, sadly conducted via newspaper blogs and press releases, is overshadowing and masking recognition of the successes of strong citywide government.