Mayor's Great Oyster Giveaway

Livingstone accused of smoke and mirrors tricks as he sits on £1/2 billion nest egg

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Following news that the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone is cutting bus Oyster fares by 10%, London Assembly Conservatives have revealed that Transport for London (TfL) has accrued over £500million from fare increases and revenue under spends accumulated since the Mayor was re-elected in 2004.

The Mayor told commuters that better-than-expected revenue from Tube ticket sales and greater efficiencies have enabled him to cut Oyster pay-as-you-go bus fares by 10%, costing Transport for London (TfL) £36 million.

However, according Conservative assembly members, financial records show that over the last three years, TfL has accumulated £523 million surplus. Last year alone, the combined extra fare revenue and under spends resulted in a £247m surplus. In 2005/06 it was £195m and in 2004/05 it was £81m.

Roger Evans AM, the Conservative Transport Spokesman said, “This looks like a pre-election giveaway, but just remember that Livingstone pledged not to increase fares after his re-election in 2004 - and we’ve had three years of fare increases.

“This apparent act of generosity is actually very mean in the face of the bumper surpluses of over half a billion pounds that TfL have been collecting over the last three years. Since 2004, overall fare income alone was £175 million better than expected. Livingstone is returning just 6% of the extra money he’s received to the London fare payer at a time when our public transport ranks amongst the most expensive in the world. This is a typical smoke and mirrors trick from conjuring Livingstone: what you get is not quite what it seems.”

From 30 September the single bus fare, at any time of the day, will be reduced by ten per cent from £1 to 90p on Pay as You Go on the Oyster Card; and the price of a weekly bus pass will be reduced from £14 to £13.

Announcing the cuts Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone said "During the last seven years London has seen the biggest expansion of investment in its transport system since World War II. This started with the bus system and continued on the Tube when this was taken over by Transport for London.

"Overall investment has therefore almost doubled from £1.5 billion in the financial year 2004-05 to £2.9 billion in the current year. This increase in investment is vital to sustain the forty per cent increase in bus passengers since 2000, the record level of tube ridership, and the transport requirements of rapid growth in London - but this unprecedented investment programme had to be financed by fare increases in the last three years.

"I am pleased that the strength of London's economy, and efficiencies achieved by TfL, mean that fares can now be reduced with no cutback in the investment programme or financial risk to the transport budget. This economic strength and operating efficiency creates benefits that should be returned to Londoners."


June 20, 2007