TfL bailed out
Transport for London (TfL) is to receive a government funding package worth £1.6 billion to protect its services.
The deal is intended to increase services to help make sure people can follow social distancing guidelines while travelling. It comes after the city’s bus and Tube network has seen unprecedented service level drops due to the lockdown. The deal consists of a grant of £1.095 billion and a loan of £505 million and runs until October 2020. In order to safeguard services in the future, the package will see the reintroduction of fares on buses and reinstatement of the congestion charge.
A London COVID-19 task force, comprising representatives of the government and TfL, has been established to oversee operational decisions during the crisis. The collective focus will be on taking all practicable steps to increase the number of services as quickly as possible to benefit passengers who have no alternative to public transport.
London’s Transport Commissioner, Mike Brown MVO, said: “I welcome this support from Government which will help us continue to get London moving and working again, safely and sustainably.
“London’s transport network is absolutely fundamental to the economic, social and environmental health of the Capital. Throughout the pandemic, transport workers have played a heroic role in the response to the virus –ensuring NHS and care staff have been able to get to work and save lives.
“We have worked closely with the Government and Mayor as part of the national effort to fight the virus, rapidly reducing passenger numbers to levels not seen for 100 years. This has meant that our fare and other revenue has fallen by 90%.
“We now need to help London recover as restrictions on movement are gradually eased, with public health and more active forms of travel at the forefront of our thinking.
“We have been operating up to 70% of peak Tube services and over 80% of bus services with many of our staff ill, shielding or in self isolation. From next week we will further increase services beyond this as we progressively build towards restoring services to pre-COVID levels.
“To maintain social distancing wherever possible, the transport network needs to operate differently during this extraordinary period. In line with advice from the Government and Mayor we are encouraging people who can work from home to continue to do so to enable the people who must travel to do so safely. We are asking everyone to try and avoid the busiest times to support social distancing wherever possible, to wear non-medical face coverings when they do need to use public transport, and to walk and cycle whenever possible. We are providing extensive new cycling and walking facilities to support journeys by these means.
“Enormous challenges remain, including agreeing longer term sustainable funding for transport in the capital. In the meantime, we will continue to do everything in our power to help deliver a successful recovery for our great city.”