Public transport users in London are being reminded that fares across the capital’s range of services are set to increase by 6.8 per cent next week in line with changes first announced in October.
The new fares come into effect from Sunday 2 January 2011 and will see the cost of a single Oyster bus fare rise to by 10p to £1.30. On the Tube the Zone 1 pay as you go fare will also increase by 10p to £1.90 while “overall” Travelcard season ticket prices will go up by RPI plus two per cent.
The increases are the third implemented by Mayor of London Boris Johnson since he took office in 2008.
In a statement issued today Mr Johnson said he had “kept the fares for 2011 at the absolute minimum while still protecting the vital improvements that London’s transport network needs. ”
London Assembly Members and commentators have previously condemned the withdrawal of the Zone 2-6 Travelcard which will require passengers to buy the more expensive Zone 1-6 Travelcard instead, increasing the cost of their ticket by 74% from £8.50 to £15.
The withdrawal was absent from Transport for London’s October press release covering the fares increases prompting accusations that the Mayor was guilty of “burying bad news”.
City Hall today sought to downplay the significance of the change, saying figures showed the ticket was used by “6,000 passengers a day, including just a few hundred people during the morning peak.”
Despite the Mayor’s assurances that increases have been kept to “the absolute minimum”, figures provided by him to the London Assembly suggest it may have been possible to spare commuters some of the increase.
Responding to a question tabled by Liberal Democrat AM Caroline Pidgeon, the Mayor said Transport for London “estimates that the extra bus fares revenue in the year 2011/12 as a result of the January 2011 fare changes will be around £60m.”
In November Johnson told Pidgeon that the loss of revenue caused by the abolition of the Congestion Charge’s Western Extension Zone, which ceased to operate on Christmas Eve and will not be re-instated next week, was estimated at “£55 million per year”.
The similarity between the figures has brought complaints from opposition politicians that the Mayor is using fare payers to plug a self-made hole in TfL’s budget.
Labour’s 2012 Mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone said the decision to abolish the WEZ was “a political choice with direct consequences that cost Londoners across the city more in fares, putting some drivers in central London ahead of transport users in the outer London boroughs.”
Last week Livingstone and Johnson clashed on LBC’s James O’Brien show over the figures with the former Mayor accusing his successor of opting “to whack up the fairs for people across the City in order to give this bonus to some of the richest people in London.”
Consulting on the future of the extension was a manifesto commitment by the Mayor during 2008’s Greater London Authority elections. Two subsequent consultations, one of which was the formal statutory consultation needed to change the scheme, found a majority of respondents favoured abolishing the extension.
Green Party AM Jenny Jones said the decision to put up fares for a third year meant many Londoners “face a rise in public transport fares of 7% from January, well above inflation at a time when many have frozen pay packets or expect redundancy.”
That sentiment was echoed by Pidgeon who commented: “For the third year in a row the Mayor of London is racking up fares well ahead of the rate of inflation.
“Above all else the Mayor seems determined to penalise some of the poorest Londoners. Far more than any other group of travellers he has picked on bus users who rely on Oyster Pay-As-You. Under Boris anyone who relies on buses – yet can’t afford a season ticket – has been stung by a whacking 44 per cent increase in their fares.”
Jo deBank of London TravelWatch, the passenger watchdog for London, said commuters were facing “staggeringly large fare rises” which would “hit Londoners hard, especially in what is a very difficult time for many people.”
Ms deBank said passengers should “think carefully before they buy: Oyster Pay As You Go is much cheaper on tube and buses for single fares, and may well be cheaper than through-tickets or Travelcards. And we always advise people get annual or monthly tickets NOW to beat the fare rise on 2 January.”
Shashi Verma, TfL’s Director of Fares & Ticketing, said it was “always faster and more convenient to use Oyster pay as you go than to purchase a paper or cash single or a Day ticket so we urge passengers to do this or to check out our range of 7 Day and monthly season tickets if they travel frequently.”
Full details of the new fares can be found at www.tfl.gov.uk/tickets