Boris Johnson has announced a raft of fare increases which will see a single Oyster Pay as You Go bus trip increase to 90p plus higher costs for bus passes and season tickets. Overall fares will increase by six per cent in 2009.
On the underground the £4 adult cash fare via Zone 1 is frozen, while the £3 non-Zone 1 fare rises to £3.20. There are also changes to Oyster Pay as You Go (PAYG) fares on the Tube and travelcards. Off-peak tube travelers will be able to take advantage of a new daytime off-peak reduced fare which will operate between 9.30am and 4.00pm.
Free travel for under 11s is to be continued but the PAYG flat fare for 11-15s on the Tube increases from 50p to 55p. The minimum adult cash fare of £1.50 on the DLR and Overground rises to £1.60.
Mayor Johnson also confirmed the extension of the Freedom Pass to 24hrs and, after months of contradictory statements by City Hall and Transport for London, announced there is to be a new half-price travel scheme for those on Income Support.
Mr Johnson defended the increases by blaming the “largesse” of former Mayor Ken Livingstone who he accused of overseeing an “irresponsible pre-election fares freeze” which City Hall claim created a budget short-fall of £80m.
Mr Livingstone denied this was the case and insisted “Londoners are now having to pay through the nose for Boris Johnson’s wrong policy decisions and waste.”
Since coming to office Johnson has embarked on a series of measures which have impacted on TfL’s budget. In May he announced plans to give up an annual £15m from Venezuela aimed at helping London’s poorest and in July paid out £400,000 to a charity nominated by Porsche after scrapping plans to introduce a £25 CO2 Charge which some calculations suggest would have raised up to £50m a year.
The Mayor is also consulting on plans to scrap the Western Extension of the Congestion Charge which would lead to further reductions in TfL’s income.
The Mayor said he was “determined to deliver value for money for London’s farepayers and taxpayers and that will mean some tough choices. But let no-one be in any doubt. We’re investing billions to improve transport in London, prepare for 2012 and deliver Crossrail. This is a fares package that will sustain the investment needed to deliver the extra capacity and reliability that is vital for London.”
Labour’s London Assembly transport spokesperson, Val Shawcross, described the fare increase as “unnecessary” and said it would “hit the pocket of every Londoner hard and makes a complete mockery of the Mayor’s promise to provide value for money.”
“Boris Johnson has given us no evidence whatsoever for his claim that there is a transport finance blackhole. What the evidence does point to is an increase in passenger numbers and revenue in TfL’s coffers. If anything there should be a surplus this year, as there was in previous years. For Boris to blame his predecessor for this fare hike is nothing more than a cheap political shot.”
“If the Mayor genuinely is concerned about the fares budget then he should have thought twice abolishing the £25 higher charge for gas guzzlers and should reconsider his expensive plans to replace the bendy bus.”
Green Party Assembly Member Darren Johnson claimed any funding shortfall at TfL was the result of Mayor Johnson’s pro-car stance, commenting: “If Boris was not exploring the possibility of scrapping the western extension of the congestion charge, or had not abolished the £25 charge on gas guzzling vehicles, I doubt he would have this financial black hole to plug. His actions to protect motorists are likely to lose TfL around £110m annually and it would be grossly unfair for public transport users to be forced to meet these costs.”
Mike Tuffrey AM, the Liberal Democrat’s group leader at the London Assembly said: “Last year the Liberal Democrats pointed out Ken Livingstone’s fare freeze was unsustainable and this announcement proves us right.”
Tuffrey accused Mayor Johnson of failing to “outline exactly how a inflation busting increase in fares will benefit the hard pressed traveller on London’s transport network.”
David Leibling from passenger watchdog London TravelWatch said: “We welcome the new off-peak fare, which may encourage people to avoid the busiest times, but the change will have to be fully advertised, so passengers can take advantage of the cheaper fares, and also to avoid people returning in the peak with an off-peak ticket.”
“We have reservations about capacity on an already-crowded transport network with more people travelling free at the busiest times now the Freedom Pass will be accepted 24 hours a day. However, we do welcome the retention of half-price fares for those on Income Support, passengers who cannot afford public transport, but who rely on it greatly.”
A spokesperson for Ken Livingstone said: “Boris Johnson’s claim that his swingeing fare attacks on Londoners are due to Ken Livingstone’s ‘largesse’ is totally false and a transparent attempt to pass the buck for the costs of his own wrong policies and waste, including abandoning the charge on gas-guzzlers costing between £30 million and £50 million a year, abandoning the cheap oil deal with Venezuela worth £16 million a year, and the possible dropping of the congestion charge zone in Kensington and Chelsea which would throw away even more money. Cavalier future plans of the Boris Johnson administration would cost even more, such as £100 million for a new ‘routemaster’ bus. London has a Mayor who transfers millions of pounds from ordinary Londoners who use public transport to drivers of gas guzzlers and residents of Kensington and Chelsea.”