Mayor freezes fares
Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has confirmed that fares for TfL services will be frozen in real terms in 2014, with an average rise of RPI only (3.1%) from 2 January and a freeze on many fares at 2013 prices. On London’s buses, both the daily price cap and the cash fare for a single bus journey will be frozen. The pay as you go fare for Oyster and contactless payment card users will rise 5p to £1.45. The 7 Day Bus & Tram Pass will increase by 80p to £20.40. TfL has recently consulted on proposals to remove the option to pay by cash on all TfL bus services in mid-2014. The consultation has now closed and a decision will be made by the Mayor later this year.
According to the Mayor, the price freezes and caps are in recognition that transport costs are one of the biggest pressures on working Londoners and household budgets. Limiting the average fare increase to the rate of inflation, rather than RPI+1%, has been made affordable through a combination of measures, including TfL’s savings and efficiencies programme and commercial revenue targets.
In addition to having fares capped and frozen, TfL is now setting out how it is continuing to invest to modernise and improve London’s transport network, to support jobs, more homes and economic growth in the capital and across the UK. A revised TfL Business Plan to 2020/21 (following the funding settlement agreed with Government earlier this year) will be published shortly and is due to be considered by the transport authority’s board at its meeting on 11 December. TfL’s revised Business Plan will set out how £16bn of efficiencies and savings are being made across TfL to support billions of pounds of investment in transforming the Tube, completing Crossrail and enhancing the bus, London Overground, DLR and Tramlink services, while continuing to build safe and attractive cycling infrastructure, improve the roads, high streets and neighbourhoods and tackle air pollution. One of the key improvements it aims to implement includes putting 1,700 hybrid buses on the streets, 600 of which will be New Bus for Londons.
Commenting on the fare freezes, Boris Johnson said, ‘I have always said I was determined to bear down on fares, while ensuring that we can still invest properly in a transport system that is critical to our city’s success. This package, which has been made possible by the continuing delivery of efficiencies across TfL, ensures that fares remain affordable and that we have the level of funding we need to continue to improve the network and deliver even better, more frequent services for everyone. I know that families and working Londoners who have helped drive the economic recovery still face real pressure over the cost of living and so I’ve decided to keep fares in line with RPI and therefore freeze them in real terms for next year.’
Head of Campaigns, Campaign for Better Transport, James MacColl, said, ‘Boris Johnson’s decision to keep the increase in public transport fares to 3% is definitely a step in the right direction, although many Londoners will still see fares rising faster than incomes. The challenge is now for George Osborne to match the Mayor’s commitment in this week’s Autumn Statement and end the decade of above inflation rail fares.’
RMT General Secretary, Bob Crow, said, ‘The truth is that with many people facing pay freezes or cuts these fare increases will still hit London’s poorest the hardest. The cynical attempt to play off fares against cuts to jobs, services and safety will fool no one as this highly politicised stunt unravels for Boris Johnson and the Government. If it wasn’t for the savage cuts being imposed on transport services in London by the Tory led Government we could cut fares, retain every staff post and improve passenger services.’