Some of the poorest transport users in London will see bus fares double after Mayor of London Boris Johnson announced the end of a deal with Venezuela’s state-owned oil company which allowed income support recipients benefit from half price fares.
Under a deal agreed by former Mayor Ken Livingstone London received a payment equivalent to 20 per cent of the price of fuel for the capital’s bus fleet. This saving was passed on to income support recipients – some of the poorest households in London – in the form of reduced bus fares.
A statement issued by City Hall this morning says Mayor Johnson has decided not to renew the current deal when it concludes this August. According to the statement Transport for London will continue to accept applications until August and recognise the discount beyond this date for a maximum period of six months.
The Mayor said “’I think many Londoners felt uncomfortable about the bus operation of one of the world’s financial powerhouses being funded by the people of a country where many people live in extreme poverty. I simply think there are better ways of benefiting Londoners and better ways of benefiting Venezuelans.”
“We will continue to offer the half-priced travel concession to
Londoners on Income Support for the duration for which the deal was
originally planned, and will continue to improve the capital’s
transport system and ensure that it is accessible and able to meet the
needs of all those who rely on it.”
The agreement was a variation of the one in operation between Venezuela and New York where the company supplies reduce prices heating oil.
Speaking at the launch of the scheme last August London’s Transport Commissioner Peter Hendy said the deal “enables us to cut fares even further in support of the least
well off Londoners, who now have even greater access to jobs, leisure
and all this great city has to offer.”
Mr Livingstone said the announcement was “a direct attack on the poorest Londoners” which “gives us a taste of what we can expect from the Johnson administration. Thousands of Londoners are being attacked by the Mayor of their city by this decision.”
The former Mayor said “Regardless of Boris Johnson’s objections to the oil agreement with Venezuela he has announced no alternative way to provide cheaper travel to the more than 80,000 Londoners on Income Support who benefit from the half price bus and tram fares. It shows that he is more interested in pursuing his right wing ideological agenda than improving the living standards of the most deprived people in the capital.”
Attacking the timing of today’s announcement Livingstone commented: “The fact that the first significant action by Johnson’s Tory regime is against the poorest people in the capital is highly significant as is the cowardly way he has made the announcement on Bank Holiday Sunday without any consultation with the organisations representing the thousands of carers, single parents and others affected and at a time when he can assume there will be less media coverage.”
“It is now clear that the Boris Johnson mayoralty means an attack on the least well-off Londoners. Following his decision to hand most of his Mayoral powers to a vicious trade union busting “slash and burn” expert, we now start to see the face which Boris Johnson was so careful to conceal in his election campaign.”
“The suggestion that Johnson is motivated by any concern about the people of Venezuela is just a lie shown by the fact that he is withdrawing all technical support and advice provided by London under this agreement.”