|Mayor breaks promise on public transport fares|
Above inflation increases in bus and tube fares to be announced
Having made his reputation with the 'Fares Fair' policy under the Greater London Council, Ken Livingstone looks set to announce further significant rises in public transport costs for what is already one of the most expensive networks in the world.
The rises are to fund the massive investments he has made in the London transport network particularly the increase in the number of buses. Although the strategy has led to a significant rise in bus use and a reduction in the number of cars on London's roads it has caused a massive shortfall in the transport budget.
The Mayor claims that he is not getting sufficient funding from central government to improve the transport system without raising prices. This, combined with revenue from congestion charging, which was well below expectations, has meant that he is likely to have to renege on a commitment not to raise fares above the rate of inflation made as recently as this May and only three months after his re-election.
Opponents of the Mayor's policies argue that despite the success in increasing bus use congestion and air quality have not improved outside the congestion charge zone and in some areas are getting worse. Some blame traffic calming measures for the increase in congestion and failure to improve air quality.
Tony Arbour, the Conservative Assembly Member sees the news as a direct turnaround on the Mayor’s pre-election promises that by introducing above inflation fare rises in January, he was being more honest with the electorate and giving them a choice at the ballot box. He said, ‘Mayor Livingstone justified hefty fare rises by telling us he was doing this at the start of the year in order to give the voters the chance to vote him out if they didn’t like it."
He accused the Mayor of being naive in expecting the Chancellor to give him the necessary funding for his projects in the 2004 Spending Review.
January 2004’s fare rises included a 25% increase in single tube fares in central London and a 43% rise in bus fares in Outer London. Bus fares remain relatively cheap compared to other major European capitals particularly when the pre-pay Oyster card system is used but tube fares were already the highest for any similar network in the world.
The rises are expected to be announced this Tuesday.
September 17, 2004