Government £1.6bn bailout of TfL will be paid for by ‘ordinary people doing the right thing’

The Canary

Public transport users in London will be hit by fare increases and restrictions on free travel due to the Government’s £1.6 billion bailout of Transport for London (TfL).

Mayor Sadiq Khan accused the Department for Transport (DfT) of “making ordinary Londoners pay the cost for doing the right thing on Covid-19”.

The department said it included a series of caveats as part of the funding package “in order to safeguard services in the future”.

Temporary measures consist of stopping free travel for children and only allowing people over 60 or with a disability to travel for free outside peak hours.

Coronavirus bus
London bus and tube fares are set to rise as part of a Government bailout, PA has been told (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Fares on buses – scrapped to help protect drivers from Covid-19 – will be reintroduced, and the congestion charge for people driving into the centre of the city will resume.

These changes will take place “as soon as practicable”, the DfT said.

The department also announced that TfL will introduce above-inflation fare rises from next year. Fares will go up by RPI+1%.

Khan has frozen single fares since he became mayor in May 2016.

The bailout consists of a £1.1 billion grant and a £505 million loan.

Khan said it was “not the deal I wanted but it was the only deal the Government put on the table”.

He went on: “I had no choice but to accept it to keep the Tubes and buses running.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said TfL had been negotiating with the Government for around six weeks (Jonathan Brady/PA)

“Fares income has fallen by 90% in the last two months because Londoners have done the right thing and stayed at home – so there simply isn’t enough money coming in to pay for our services.”

The DfT said the agreement means TfL will increase service levels “as soon as possible to ensure people can follow social distancing guidelines while on the network”.

Concerns have been raised about packed Tube trains and buses this week after the Prime Minister encouraged people in England to go to work if they cannot work from home.

A London Covid-19 Task Force – featuring representatives from the Government and TfL – has been established to oversee operational decisions during the pandemic.

The Government will immediately carry out a broad-ranging review of TfL’s finances and structure, which will includes “the potential for efficiencies”, the DfT revealed.

Two “special representatives” will join TfL’s board on behalf of the Government “in order to ensure best value for money for the taxpayer”.

TfL has been in talks with ministers for several weeks over a grant, as it requires £3.2 billion to balance its proposed emergency budget for 2020/21.

On Thursday, Khan warned that TfL would need to reduce services unless an agreement was reached by the end of the day.

A decline in passenger numbers of 95% on the London Underground and 85% on buses due to the coronavirus lockdown has caused a 90% fall in TfL’s income.

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  • Show Comments
    1. Why should Londaners get everything for free? Fares haven’t risen for four years in the Capital, whilst fares around the rest have Britain have consistantly gone up in above inflation rises.
      Is there a bailout for the rest of the public transport networks, or is this the only one?

      Same goes for all these new and improved cycle lanes. And the streets being stolen off the motorist for cycles and buses only.
      It’s about time cyclists started paying their way instead of riding like tax free kamikazi pilots all over the road.
      Three million new bikes are sold every year in this country. A twenty-five pound levy on them would put seventy-five million per annum into the Tresuries coffers. A small price to pay for cleaner air and safer cycling.
      Oh yes. And make cycle helmets compulsory.

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