4 ways London’s broken public transport system could be fixed

Transport in London is under huge pressure – both financial and environmental.

With lockdown, fares nosedived dramatically and Transport for London had two bailouts from the Government last year – £1.6bn in May and another £1.8bn in November.

A further £260m has been agreed this spring and another £225m dependent on fares.

The next Mayor will have to balance TfL’s books by April 2023.

And the transport system also faces ambitious targets to cut carbon emissions to zero.

Voters get to choose their next Mayor of London on Thursday May 6.

A handful of commuters are seen onboard an underground train during what would traditionally be a busy morning period for travel, on March 26, 2021 (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Transport is the largest source of carbon emissions in the UK and in 2018 36 per cent of trips in London were by public transport.

Corporate sponsorship

Conservative candidate Shaun Bailey wants to fix TfL’s battered finances by introducing corporate sponsorship for the Tube network to protect under 18s’ and over 60s’ free travel.

He said he didn’t think Londoners should pay for the financial problems faced by TfL and believes there was £9.56bn “wasteful spending” at TfL over the last five years.

He said he will scrap the Mayor’s council tax rise of 10 per cent from day one if he is elected in May.

“Instead of raising taxes, I will introduce commercial sponsorship for the Tube. Just like Santander sponsors the bike-hire scheme,” he said.

Shaun Bailey, the candidate for the Conservative Party for the 2021 London mayoral election, speaking at the annual Conservative Party Conference in Manchester.

“This will raise enough revenue to protect the services Londoners rely on — including free travel for under-18s and over-60s. All without costing Londoners a penny.”

The same fare in any zone

Sian Berry, who is the Green Party candidate, is championing flat fares for all across London to help people balance their budgets.

She said: “More and more people are being pushed to the edges of London because of housing costs in the centre, only to be punished by spiralling transport costs when they move.

A busy London road. 36 per cent of journeys made by Londoners last year were on public transport
(Image: Transport for London)

“This isn’t fair. Two workers in the same central London hospital should pay the same fare to get to work no matter where they live. As Mayor I would reduce and, over time, end this inequality within a flat fare system with one zone, eliminating the unfair extra costs imposed on people living in outer London.”

Green Party candidate, Sian Berry
(Image: Kirsty O’Connor/PA Wire)

She aims to “Flatten fares and create a single zone for Tube and rail, just like we have on buses, helping everyone in outer London pay less for travel.”

She also wants to defend free travel to the under 18s and the 60+ Oyster card.

And she wants all transport in London to be carbon zero and non-polluting by 2030 – in nine year’s time.

Ms Berry plans also to increase bus services and their frequency.

“We will reverse these cuts and make sure all of London has a clean, green bus service linking into other modes of public transport, and with walking and cycling routes,” she said.

She also plans to scrap the Silvertown Tunnel

Fighting to make transport more affordable

Labour’s Sadiq Khan – current mayor – said: “I know that, along with housing, transport is one of the biggest costs Londoners face.”

Sadiq Khan is hoping to become London mayor for a second term. Aaron Chown/PA Wire

He said: “I’ve frozen TfL fares for four years in a row, introduced the unlimited Hopper bus fare and got the Night Tube up and running.”

If he is re-elected he said he would fight to make transport more affordable.

“Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on public finances and TfL’s fares income has fallen by more than 90 per cent because people couldn’t travel. The Tory Government is punishing Londoners for doing the right thing and is forcing TfL to raise fares, cut free travel for older people and under-18s, and increase the price and scope of the Congestion Charge.”

Road user charging scheme

Liberal Democrat Luisa Porritt’s manifesto said she is opposed to scrapping free transport for the under 18s.

She said she is “committed to protecting the 60+ Oyster card and removing the current limits on its usage.”

London Mayor candidate Luisa Porritt
(Image: Liberal Democrats)

She added: “Major decisions about TfL’s long-term future are for Londoners to decide at the ballot box.

“The Liberal Democrats believe TfL needs to move away from a dependence on fares for income and look to introduce a smart, fair, road user charging scheme.”

She said her pay as you go scheme would be a first in the UK.

The change could do away with the current “complex web of road charging schemes, from the Congestion Charge and the Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) to the Mayor’s proposal to extend the outer London boundary charge.

She said: “These flat rate charges mean that a delivery driver making dozens of journeys a day pays the same as a resident making a single visit to a family member in one of the current mayor’s zones.

“This is not fair and this will not help in our battle to clean up our air.”

A spokesperson for London Labour said: “Sadiq is immensely proud of the way TfL responded to the pandemic. In particular, the hard work and sacrifice of their transport workers who kept London going.

“But there is no denying that this period has been a monumental challenge. The organisation’s collapse in fare income due to Covid was compounded by the Tories’ abolition of TfL’s central Government operating grant, resulting in a crisis partly of the government’s own making.

“If elected on May 6, Sadiq will continue to push for a new long-term, sustainable and fair funding model for TfL because the only way to get a national recovery is with a London recovery and a London recovery relies on TfL doing well.

“As Mayor, Sadiq worked hard to invest in the public transport network and remains committed to enhancing it. The fruits of this investment will be revealed in the next Mayoral term including upgrades to key tube lines that run through West London and new or upgraded stations at Bank and Battersea Power Station.

“Sadiq will maintain his focus on accessibility and sustainability, electrifying more of London’s buses and making more stations step-free so every Londoner can travel easily across our city.”

The full list of Mayoral candidates is:

Shaun Bailey, Conservative Party Candidate

Kam Balayev, Renew

Sian Berry, Green Party

Count Binface, Count Binface for Mayor of London

Valerie Brown, The Burning Pink Party

Piers Corbyn, Let London Live

Max Fosh, Independent

Laurence Fox, The Reclaim Party

Peter Gammons, UKIP

Richard Hewison, Rejoin EU

Vanessa Hudson, Animal Welfare Party – People, Animals, Environment

Steven Kelleher, Social Democratic Party

Sadiq Khan, Labour Party

David Kurten, Heritage Party

Farah London, Independent

Nims Obunge, Independent

Niko Omilana, Independent

Luisa Porritt, Liberal Democrats

Mandu Reid, Vote Women’s Equality on orange

Brian Rose, London Real Party

If you have a story from this part of London, please email our Local Democracy Reporter julia.gregory@reachplc.com

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