Sadiq Khan has told transport secretary Grant Shapps it is “absolutely imperative” that they and Transport for London representatives meet in person to hammer out long-term financing arrangements for the capital’s transport networks in order to avoid large cuts in bus and London Underground services.
In a letter dated 9 June the Mayor blames government conditions attached to the current short-term funding support settlement for TfL already considering significant cuts to bus services, and he asserts that “the industrial action we are seeing on the underground network” is another “direct result” of them.
With the current financing package due to expire on 24 June, Khan complains to Shapps that “despite this looming deadline, I have yet to hear from you directly” and adds, “you should be aware that 20 meetings with TfL have been cancelled by the DfT [Department for Transport] and/or Treasury since the last funding deal was agreed”.
On London understands that no date has been set for any meeting between TfL and government representatives despite there being only a fortnight left of the current short-term support package, the fourth since TfL’s fares revenue collapsed due to the impact of Covid on public transport use.
City Hall insiders have repeatedly complained that Whitehall officials have habitually left discussions about TfL funding until very late, sometimes imposing last-minute conditions on the financial support offered.
TfL has recently put out proposals for reductions to or curtailments of 78 central and inner London bus routes accompanied by Khan accusing Boris Johnson of forcing TfL “to cut 21 routes”, prompting government sources to accuse the Mayor of “artificially creating” this scenario and indulging in “bleeding stump politics”.
A strike by around 4,000 London Underground workers in the RMT union brought the Tube system to a standstill on Monday and staff in the Unite union say they will join them in a further strike planned for 21 June. RMT members will also refuse to work on national rail services on 21, 23 and 25 June. The action is over pay, job security and, in particular, pensions.
Separately, the Aslef union, which represents drivers, has announced that its members who work on the London Trams network will strike on 28 and 29 June and on 13 and 14 July, and those with the Greater Anglia rail company, which provides London Overground services into Liverpool Street, will walk out on 23 June.
Khan urged the RMT to call off Monday’s action and has not accepted a demand by the union’s general secretary Mick Lynch for a “direct face-to-face meeting” with him,
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