Sadiq Khan has warned that the government’s new “conditions-based” financial support package for Transport for London could result in the capital’s public transport services being reduced.
Speaking at the re-opening of the Waterloo & City line yesterday morning, the Mayor told BBC London’s Tom Edwards that he and TfL will consider vacating office space, merging some departments, reducing staff employed on a short-term basis and, possibly, “the reduction of services”.
The Mayor stressed that he wishes to avoid service cuts, saying they would be “counter-productive” and “not the way to avoid a car-led recovery” but added that considering such an outcome is “one of the consequences of the government asking us to make the savings we’ve got to make”.
TfL commissioner Andy Byford has said the latest funding arrangements – announced last week and effective until December – mean TfL must find £900 million in savings or additional income this year on top £730 million of savings its current business plan already assumes.
Last week’s ridership figures showed that weekday use of the Tube has now risen towards 45 per cent of normal use as lockdown measures have been eased while bus use has recovered to around 60 per cent and Byford expressed hopes that the increase in passenger use will continue, especially if Covid restrictions are further reduced by the government’s target date of 21 June. Overall public transport use is up by 20 per cent since mid-May, TfL says.
Responding to the latest short-term funding deal, Conservative London Assembly Member Andrew Boff told the BBC’s Politics London programme on Sunday that although a long-term solution is “something that all Londoners would welcome” he thinks “the deal is a good one” and “we can’t ignore the fact that we can’t know what the ridership is going to be in six months time”. He added that the nature of the deal “also concentrates the mind of the Mayor on the kind of savings that TfL could make”.
However, former Arup chief economist Alexander Jan, writing for On London, has characterised the latest agreement as the government playing to a “levelling down” agenda that threatens the economic future of the capital with a return to the damaging “stop-go funding” of the past.
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