London council tax payers face a steep increase in the costs associated with transporting Freedom Pass holders by train according to London Councils, the pan-London body which represents the capital’s local authorities.
According to London Councils, the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) is seeking an increase of 25 per cent in the compensation they receive for carrying Freedom Pass holders. The body warns this would mean the amount boroughs pay to the train operating companies would jump from £12 million in 2009/10 to at least £15 million in 2010/11.
Councillor Mike Fisher, Chair of the London Councils Transport and Environment Committee, said: “It is totally unacceptable that at this late stage, the Association of Train Operating Companies announces it wants to charge boroughs 25 per cent more than last year to provide the same train services.”
London Councils says its members have had insufficient information or time to properly consider the increase and claims ATOC failed to supply evidence to support the increase until Monday (30 November) – just a week before a deal on the cost of the Freedom Pass was due to be agreed by London Councils’ Transport and Environment Committee.
Cllr Fisher said his body “have serious doubts about whether the evidence the Association of Train Operating Companies has produced to support their claim is valid. We urge them to use a more realistic figure as the basis for negotiations.”
The issue of train operators seeking additional funding was recently raised with Boris Johnson at Mayor’s Question Time.
Responding to a question from Liberal Democrat AM Caroline Pidgeon, Mayor Johnson said “any settlement [following the extension of free on trains] must represent good value for money for Londoners, and fair compensation for the fare revenue lost, not a windfall bonus for the Train Companies.”