London’s transport network will be protected for the year ahead after the government provided a third £1 billion bailout. With Transport for London’s (TfL) short term funding secured, it’s time the mayor set out his plan to get TfL back on its feet.
Since the pandemic began, the government has provided over £4 billion to keep London moving. But it has always been clear that it won’t cover the cost of TfL’s wasteful spending or write Sadiq Khan a blank cheque for years to come.
That’s why the government has asked the mayor to make £300 million of additional savings, accelerate TfL’s modernisation programme and convert one Tube line to driverless trains. The mayor also agreed to review TfL’s gold-plated pension scheme after an independent report said it was “outdated and must be reformed”.
To restore TfL’s finance, the mayor must also increase TfL’s revenue by up to £1 billion by 2023. However, the Transport Secretary warned Khan not to pursue his ludicrous plan to charge drivers up to £5.50 to enter Greater London to raise this money. Instead, the mayor could raise the money needed by encouraging commuters back to the capital.
So, what does this all mean for Londoners? Firstly, the government’s bailout will keep London’s buses, Tube lines and other transport services running. Secondly, it will push the mayor to reform and modernise London’s transport network to save London from a big bill.
However, it is up to the mayor to set out his plan to fund TfL for the long term. He cannot keep relying on government bailouts after the coronavirus pandemic has passed. It’s time Sadiq Khan showed leadership and set out how will TfL be funded long after this crisis. As mayor, that’s his job – and no one else can do it for him.
Article by Keith Prince AM first published in the Romford Recorder.