In the final days of November, Boris Johnson signed off on a decision to increase penalty fares on Transport for London services.
The penalty for not having a valid ticket is to rise to £80, up from £50. The penalty will be reduced to £40 if paid within 21 days.
In setting the new rate, the Mayor and his officials ignored the views of the Independent Appeals Panel which felt the increase was too high, especially for passengers who make “genuine errors”.
But that hasn’t happened.
A TfL spokesperson confirmed that the increase “is currently proposed to be introduced early this year.”
I’m also told that: “TfL is now working to prepare the network for this increase, and will be making a more detailed announcement about this shortly.”
But the Mayoral Decision was very clear that introducing the new penalty rate alongside the fares increase was desirable “to help limit costs of publicity and changes to statutory notices.”
Boris has made much of fare evasion, even citing some at times vague TfL figures of evasion rates on bendy buses to justify spending millions replacing them, even though he replaced some with models which retain the fare dodger friendly rear-door entry.
When he signed a document stating the need to claw back the “£63m per annum” lost to fare evasion, Boris presumably expected TfL to get to work?
So why didn’t they?
When pushed, TfL told me there simply wasn’t enough time to put up notices on every Tube, DLR and Overground carriage and bus in order to make the penalties effective from 2nd January.
Did no-one at City Hall think to check whether the target date was deliverable before asking the Mayor to sign off on it?
TfL’s press office were unable to confirm when the new penalties will come into effect. Their website currently suggests it’ll be 19 February 2012, seven weeks later than planned and the better part of three months since they were told to get on with it.