Thursday, 4 September 2008

Boris Johnson to raise travel fares across London

Boris Johnson will announce above inflation price hikes on bus and tube fares today, after failing to finance gaps left from scrapping the higher Congestion Charge and Venezuelan oil schemes.

Figures released to today's Budget and Performance Committee show that TfL had expected to reap up to £100 million pounds in revenue over the next two years from the £25 congestion charge.

The cancellation of the Venezuelan 'oil deal' had also led to Tfl handing back around £7 million to Venezuela and will leave another estimated £17 million hole in their budget every year.

Tube contracts and wages are also up, with Boris Johnson seemingly failing to negotiate his mythical no-strike deal.

These factors along with rising oil prices and the looming black hole which is the new fleet of Routemasters, means that today's rises are almost inevitable.

Default position

However, what was even more inevitable was his attempts to blame the rises on his predecessor Ken Livingstone.

After a few days in which he looked to be moving away from his seemingly permanent election mode, Boris has once again reverted to his default position of blaming Ken.

In a series of evening briefings journalists were told of the £80 million 'black hole' left by Ken's 'cynical' decision to freeze fares last year.

But with his own 'cynical' failure to mention expected fare rises during the election campaign, I think we can take this for the extended electioneering that it is.

-Update- A statement from Ken Livingstone in the comments
-Update- The figures are taken apart by Boris Watch 
-Update- Mike Tuffrey of the Lib Dems anticipated this.
-Update- Val Shawcross of Labour on a 'cheap political shot'
-Update- Darren Johnson on the cost of being car-friendly
-Update- Bob Crow puts his own penny's worth in.
-Update- Full details now online. Some good and bad news


Ken Livingstone (Press Release) said...

Commenting on the announcement of big increases in London public transport fares Ken Livingstone said:

'"Londoners are beginning to learn the high cost of Boris Johnson.

"Boris Johnson promised to save Londoners money but instead, after just a few months in office, he is pushing up fares above inflation to pay for his own incredible waste of Londoners' money.

"Boris Johnson has lost between £30 and £50 million a year by abandoning the £25 a-day charge on the worst gas guzzlers in the congestion charging zone, he has scrapped the cheap oil deal with Venezuela, costing London £16 million a year, and he may throw away a lot more by abandoning the extension of the congestion charge to Kensington and Chelsea.

"This situation is likely to get worse. Experts agree that his pledge to bring in a new 'routemaster' bus would cost over £100 million a year.

"Londoners are now having to pay through the nose for Boris Johnson's wrong policy decisions and waste."

ch paul said...

It is true that Livingstone had stretched the budget in recent years, but this is by no means a legacy left by him. Boris chose to go into the election cutting the expected revenue and he must have known that it would lead to higher fares.

If that's what he wanted to do (lower travel costs for the 4x4 drivers and raise them for everyone else) then that's fair enough but he should at least take responsibility for it.

Anonymous said...

Actually the fares increases summarises BJ's priorities not only on transport but on the environment. Fares for ordinary Londoners are going up so that owners of gas guzzlers don't have to pay the £25 CO2 polluting congestion charge.
Polluters and owners of large cars therefore are to benefit while ordinary Londoners pay for them.
Seems to summarise Boris Johnson perfectly.

Mike Tuffrey AM (Press Release) said...

Commenting on Mayor Johnson's announcement of an increase in bus and tube fares Mike Tuffrey AM, the Liberal Democrat's group leader at the London Assembly says: "Last year the Liberal Democrats pointed out Ken Livingstone's fare freeze was unsustainable and this announcement proves us right.
"As well as that what Mayor Johnson has failed to do so far is outline exactly how a inflation busting increase in fares will benefit the hard pressed traveller on London's transport network.
"Will we see better services, more reliable trains and an end to overcrowding? I somehow doubt it."

Val Shawcross AM (Press release) said...

"This unnecessary, above inflation fare hike is going to hit the pocket of every Londoner hard and makes a complete mockery of the Mayor's promise to provide value for money.

"Boris Johnson has given us no evidence whatsoever for his claim that there is a transport finance blackhole. What the evidence does point to is an increase in passenger numbers and revenue in TfL's coffers. If anything there should be a surplus this year, as there was in previous years. For Boris to blame his predecessor for this fare hike is nothing more than a cheap political shot.

"If the Mayor genuinely is concerned about the fares budget then he should have thought twice abolishing the £25 higher charge for gas guzzlers and should reconsider his expensive plans to replace the bendy bus. It's strange to say the least that Boris is consulting about the future of the Western extension of the congestion charge but hasn't seen fit to consult Londoners on this fare hike which will hit all passengers hard. It just smacks of playing political games with London's transport network"

Blogger said...

Seems the Lib Dems can't do their arithmetic.
Boris Johnson has lost around £50 million a year through cancelling the £25 a day CO2 charge on gas guzzlers.
He has lost £18 million a year by cancelling the Venezuelan oil deal.
That is a loss of £68 million a year.
Ken Livingstone's low fares policy was therefore totally financially viable. The 'black hole' has appeared only because Boris Johnson puts owners of gas guzzlers and large cars before ordinary London public transport users and because he has cancelled a mutually beneficial deal with Venezuela because of his blinkered right wing viewpoint.
In short the fares increase is due to Boris Johnson's policies.
As Ken Livingstone said Londoners are now paying through the nose for Boris Johnson.

Darren Johnson AM (Press Release) said...

Responding to the news that London’s Mayor is expected to announce an above inflation rise in bus and tube fares, Darren Johnson, a Green Party member of the London Assembly, commented:

“If Boris was not consulting on the scrapping the western extension of the congestion charge, or had not abolished the £25 charge on gas guzzling vehicles, I doubt that these fare rises would be necessary. His actions to protect motorists are likely to lose TfL around £110m annually and it would be grossly unfair for public transport users to be forced to meet these costs.”

Darren argues that at a time of high petrol prices we should be aiming to keep public transport fares as low as possible to convince Londoners to switch to this mode of travel. A rise in fares at this time of economic hardship could leave many Londoners struggling to meet their basic living costs.

Anonymous said...

So, in the interests of fairness let's have some facts straightened, eh Mr Troll?

Firstly, some fares (for travelling on the tube in the outer zones, thus rewarding those who voted for Boris but were ignored under ken) are being decreased.

Secondly, the reduced travel for those on benefits which allying London with a corrupt dictator in South America paid for is being kept. DESPITE YOU SAYING OTHERWISE (apology necessary?).

The 24hr Freedom Pass (a manifesto commitment and one which you repeatedly wrongly told your readers was not) is being honoured.

Finally, there was massive and very credible evidence that appeared during the campaign that Ken was talking to Peter Hendy about increasing fares to cope with Crossrail.

Please do not dismiss the above, because they are all in the official TfL document released to coincide with the press statement.

The Troll said...

I think you may have too hold your horses my anonymous friend, and read my post published five minutes ago.

And for the record, it was Boris who said that half-price fares would be scrapped. I merely reported it. That he has changed his mind I have welcomed.

Care to apologise yourself?

A casual observer said...

You've got to love the Evening Standard.

In their main article they give Johnson half the space to jusftify his rise. Livingstone is given just one line to defend himself - which completely cuts out the core of his argument.

Their Leader Comment then goes into full-assault mode.

Finally, just for good measure, Johnson is given a column to defend himself.

A side note to "anon" above regarding Chavez. He is democratically elected. Most importanly the 2004 referendum on whether he should remain in office was deemed legitimate:

As the BBC reported on 17/08/04:
"The former US president, Jimmy Carter, said Mr Chavez had won fairly, and the Organization of American States said it had not found any element of fraud."

The Troll said...

And so its slow transformation into Boris's version of the Londoner continues.

latin american observer said...

I have to agree with 'a casual observer' who is right to point out how democratically Chavez is (more so thasn Gordon Brown or George Bush 2000, for example) There is no evidence that Chavez is corrupt - just that those who are very priveleged and powerful don't like his policies.
That Chavez has made economic mistakes (eg price freezes that led to food shortages) is another matter that is part of a discussion on democratic policies.
It is hardly the actions of a corrupt dictator to use the countries oil not to align his cronies' pockets with Swiss bank accounts as his predecessor did, but to use the oil to bring cheaper services to the poor of London, New York (yes New York) and Massachusetts. If Boris wouldn't have made such an ideological issue of this, being so badly informed by Tory High command, the Standard as usual and other media hatchets, he would have had money to finance transport.

Phil Taylor said...

We all know that the fare increases were due to be RPI + 1% until Livingstone went into election mode. TfL were gobsmacked when Livingstone came up with his freeze (which in reality was an RPI rise of 5%). So Boris has reinstated the 1%.

Troll and the ex-mayor are being disingenuous over CO2 Charging. The report quoted says: "TfL had not assumed ANY revenues from CO2 Charging in the Business Plan".

It is straightforward to demonstrate Livingstone's wishful thinking and dissimulation. In February last year Livingstone wrote to me to say that bus subsidies would be £463 million in 2006/7 and £528 million in 2007/8. The outcome, as reported in TfL's Draft Annual Report and Accounts, was £617 million in 2006/7 and £659 million in 2007/8. That's £285 million lost in just two years.

No wonder Boris is having to take tough action now.

The Troll said...

Ah Councillor Phil. I was wondering when you would drop by.

Thanks for the precis of the article on your own blog by the way. I of course don't mind re-publishing it for you.

Mind you I'm still finding it a little hard to pay any attention to you on the subject of fares since it emerged that you had no idea how much one Oyster fare cost.

Still, I'm eager to give you an airing. Please air away.