The government's short-term attitude means London’s recovery will be severely weakened just when the economy needs it most. And Londoners will have to face years of poor reduced services and failing infrastructure, unless ministers sees sense and provides the funding TfL needs to get through the ongoing crisis.
London relies on its transport system to ensure millions of people get to work, to education and training, and can access the services and businesses that help drive our economy. Without it, London would grind to a halt.
London contributes a quarter of total national Gross Value Added (GVA) a year, chipping in £36bn to the Treasury. TfL supports 43,000 supply chain jobs outside of London and for every £1 spent on London Underground investment, 55p goes to workers outside London. This shows that problems for London’s transport are a problem for everyone.
Unless the government commits to further funding for TfL when the current round runs out on December 11, TfL will be facing a process of “managed decline”. That means an 18% reduction in bus and a 9% reduction in tube services.
TfL’s revenue collapsed when the Covid-19 pandemic hit. As millions of people took the decision to stay away from public transport, to help keep it safe for key workers both those who used it to commute and those who worked on the network.
Any transport system in the world would have struggled with a 90% drop in fare revenues. But TfL was handicapped from the start.
Since 2013 the Conservatives have been slashing funding to transport in the capital. Since 2018 London has been the only European capital to receive no day-to-day transport subsidy from central government, in a deal agreed by Boris when he was still mayor.
On top of that, Boris departed the Mayor’s office leaving TfL with £9b of debt.
Now the residents of London face years of delays, cancellations and declining stock and infrastructure. This will inevitably lead to a further decline in passenger numbers pushing up private car use for those who can afford it, and further inhibiting our ability to meet our carbon targets. At the same time, the economic hit to London will be drastic.
Transport unions are determined to push back against this harmful and short-sighted plan.
Let’s hope the government sees sense and provides the funding TfL needs - or we’ll all pay the cost.
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