London Councils, the umbrella group representing the capital’s borough councils, formally agreed yesterday to contribute to the funding of the 24 hour Freedom Pass and to guarantee the scheme for the next five years. The cost of providing the Freedom Pass on all services for the current financial year is £270 million.
Although the extension of the Freedom Pass to 24 hours was announced by London Mayor Boris Johnson the scheme is funded and operated by the capital’s boroughs.
Under yesterday’s agreement the cost of providing the Freedom Pass on TfL services – determined, in principle, by usage – will be capped for each year between 2010/11 and 2014/15.
In a statement issued on Thursday London Councils’ Chairman Councillor Merrick Cockell said the agreement “will mean that a million older Londoners will be able to enjoy access to the majority of London transport 24 hours a day. It also represents another landmark in relations between the boroughs and the Mayor.”
The statement also reveals that Transport for London (TfL), which is chaired by Mayor Johnson, has agreed “to support London Councils attempts to amend the ‘Reserve Scheme’.”
The scheme, which forms part of the 1999 Greater London Authority Act, allows TfL to determine the level of funding to be provided by councils for the pass if the two sides are unable to reach agreement. The boroughs want this power to be transferred to an independent arbiter.
A report presented to a meeting of the London Councils Transport and Environment Committee states “On behalf of the Mayor, TfL agrees to support London Councils in promoting legislation to ensure that, in the event of the Reserve Scheme coming into force, the cost to the Boroughs will be determined by independent arbitration not by TfL alone.”