I couldn’t make it along to yesterday’s Age UK Mayoral hustings so like most of London I had to make do with the Guardian’s excellent live blog of the event. Andrew Gilligan has also published his take on the day.
From reports and mailings it seems our old friend the Freedom Pass has re-entered the Mayoral contest with promises to “defend” it and extend it despite not being a Mayoral scheme and getting most of its funding elsewhere.
In an announcement heavy on anti-Labour rhetoric (there is an election on after all) Boris Johnson promises he’ll extend the Pass to those aged 60, lowering the eligibility age from the current 61.
How is he going to achieve this?
With the help of Labour, Conservative and LibDem councillors.
It’s they, through London Councils, who must agree changes to the Freedom Pass scheme.
Boris’s spokesperson tells to me that he’s already had discussions with London Councils about extending the pass and confirms that Boris’s role will merely be to have Transport for London fund the difference between the current costs and any increase.
The detail makes the policy mildly less headline friendly.
Others may like to ponder whether, when more older people are staying in work, subsidising their journey is a good use of public money in these austere times.
Meanwhile Ken Livingstone has announced plans to allow Freedom Pass holders to use London’s Cycle Hire scheme – which the boroughs are kindly subsidising – for free.
The first thing that needs to be said about Ken’s policy is that it isn’t Ken’s. Jenny Jones had the idea first.
And it’s Boris and TfL’s response to Jenny which prompted me to ask the Livingstone campaign how they planned to merge two incompatible technologies.
I’ve also asked them what percentage of the Pass user base they expect to take advantage of the policy.
To which scepticism we should add the observation that everyone can already use the scheme for free, provided they re-dock their bike before the first 30 minutes run out.
They’ve promised to get back to me and I’ll add their response here, be sure to check back.
Update: Team Ken say more details of how the concession will work will be provided later in the campaign as part of a wider transport announcement.
However they say around 5% of current cycle hire users are believed to be over 60 and the lost revenue from them, as they move from paying for membership to free use, would be around £80,000.