Snipe - The Scoop

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

How bus passengers are funding Boris's congestion charge axe

At the last Mayor's Question Time Boris Johnson made a lot of fuss about the third consecutive freezing of his share of the council tax.

This has been heavily spun as a result of "prudence" on Boris's part.

However, this spin deliberately hides the fact that the overall cost of the Mayoralty on Londoners has continued to rise with fare increases massively outweighing any reductions in taxation.

And it also hides the deliberate political choice that Boris has made to cut taxes and charges for some, whilst hugely increasing fares for others.

This can be seen most clearly in Boris's decision to axe the Western extension of the congestion charge, which will come into effect this week.

TfL estimate that axing the charge will cost them £55 million a year.

So how can "prudent" Boris afford to lose so much income? Well by massively increasing fares elsewhere of course:

Increase in Bus Fares

Question No: 3888 / 2010

Caroline Pidgeon: What is TfL’s estimate of how much extra revenue the increase in bus fares from January 2011 will bring in 2011/12?

Answer from the Mayor: TfL estimates that the extra bus fares revenue in the year 2011/12 as a result of the January 2011 fare changes will be around £60m.

So that's £55 million less revenue from West Londoners paid for by £60 million extra from bus passengers.

It's a simple political choice. Force the cost of public transport up in order to keep the charges on property and motoring down.

Londoners can choose to either agree or disagree with that decision but the Mayor shouldn't keep pretending that he hasn't taken it.

20 comments:

Single Aspect said...

Bravo to you for spotting this. I have little doubt that one of Ken's campaingning points will be his intention to reinstate the WEZ and so it goes on.

EtonMess said...

It's depressingly true, that Tories invariably talk about the value of hard work, but consistently engineer policies that reward those with wealth already - hence attacking property taxes and inheritece tax and instead shifting the tax burden to those least able to pay.

BoJo is just proving that he will rob from the poor to keep onside with his core support.

Appealing of Ealing said...

1. This should be seen in the context of the massive public subsidy that the buses already receive and enjoy.

2. Buses are still great value for money, if you use an oyster card.

3. It is inequitable that car users should be asked to subsidize bus users at a rate of ten pounds a day when the cost saving to bus users is pennies. They are competing for the same resource.

4. Socialists hate private ownership in competition to public services that "their people" control, and they need to characterize this competition, or rather caricature it in terms of "rich" against "poor". But it's never as black and white as that. For example, not all people who need to drive into the congestion charging zone are "rich", and even I used a bus in the last few weeks!

Merry Christmas.

AdamB said...

"they need to characterize this competition, or rather caricature it in terms of "rich" against "poor". But it's never as black and white as that. For example, not all people who need to drive into the congestion charging zone are "rich", and even I used a bus in the last few weeks!"

Yes not all but there are far more Boris-voters as a proportion paying the WEZ than amongst bus users. That's not a socialist caricature but politics 101.

Appealing of Ealing said...

"Yes not all but there are far more Boris-voters as a proportion paying the WEZ than amongst bus users."

That may be true, but it's a different argument.

Concerning voters, Johnson made a pledge about the WEZ in his manifesto, and won the election.

AdamB said...

"Concerning voters, Johnson made a pledge about the WEZ in his manifesto, and won the election."

Yes and he also pledged to lower fares in his manifesto. He made a choice not to.

Appealing of Ealing said...

"Yes and he also pledged to lower fares in his manifesto."

Did he? I don't recall that.

"He made a choice..."

Yep, that's what politicans do. And then we vote. As you know, I think his WEZ choice was an excellent one.

AdamB said...

Yes as soon as I wrote this post I knew you would leave a comment underneath it.

Appealing of Ealing said...

AdamB said...
"Yes as soon as I wrote this post I knew you would leave a comment underneath it."

LOL. So did I. Semper fidelis. Fortitudine vincimus.

Anonymous said...

There is something in this argument, but the article fails to mention that the Congestion Charge is actually going up in the New Year from 8 pounds to 10 pounds.

The article also overlooks the fact that WEZ has some strange implications. At present, because local residents get a 90% discount, it is the case that some of the richest Londoners can drive around central London and just pay 80 pence for the luxury of doing so. If a lesser mortal from Brixton or Deptford drove into central London they would face a congestion charge of 8 pounds - and from the New Year a charge of £10.

There is an argument that the WEZ has generated extra traffic in the original Congestion Charge zone. It has certainly provided a wonderful perk for some of the richest Londoners. It has also created real havoc for some communities just outside the WEZ, where many motorists avoid the Congestion Charge by skirting around it. I believe this is why the Labour MP Andy Slaugther opposes it as he recognises how it is adversely affected his constituents.

AdamB said...

Anon: Your point about the discount is right which is why many residents in the zone will be getting a nasty shock come January (and why Kit Malthouse and others lobbied for them to keep that discount post-abolition).

However, I think the argument still stands

Anonymous said...

Adam,

Surely the fact that the Congestion Charge is increasing by 25% in January will ensure increased revenue is raised by TfL? Instead of arguing that bus users are paying for the abolition of the WEZ it couild be argued instead that motorists still wanting to enter the initial Congestion Charge zone are paying for its abolition?

On a separate point I see that this week's Hammersmith and Kensington Times are reporting a huge hike in council car parking changes, coinciding with the WEZ's abolition.

Not quite sure what to make of that - but I expect it will act to some degree as a small deterrent for people to start driving into the WEZ and might mitigitate some of the feared growth in traffic in the WEZ area.

AdamB said...

"Surely the fact that the Congestion Charge is increasing by 25% in January will ensure increased revenue is raised by TfL?"

No, I believe the TfL estimate already factors that in.

Anonymous said...

"Kit Malthouse and others lobbied for them to keep that discount post-abolition." You mean they lobbied for the WEZ to be abolished but for the residents of the zone to continue to benefit from driving cheaply in the central CC zone? Do these people have no shame?

Guano

AdamB said...

Indeed. If only there was somebody who would stand up for the wealthy of West London!

Anonymous said...

Adam,

I think the quoted figure for abolishing the WEZ of £55 million is the total amount of loss revenue from no longer charging people to enter the WEZ, minus the extra revenue from ending the 90% discount for local residents.

However, if you think the £55 million bill also factors in the extra revenue from the 25% rise in the Congestion Charge could you provide a link to a report to back up this claim?

Thanks

Anonymous said...

He had a justification for this perk?

Guano

AdamB said...

Anon: you may be right that it doesn't factor in the planned increase in which case the amount lost in the Western zone should actually be greater than £55 million.

Appealing of Ealing said...

"Indeed. If only there was somebody who would stand up for the wealthy of West London!"

Yeah, the over-fed capitalists of the South Kilburn Estate, or Rockley Road tower blocks, or South Acton Estate or...or...or...

If that report is true, then he'd have been standing up for the "poor" as well as the "wealthy" of West London.

Once again, that you (and your tweet buddy Ken) have some need to characterize this issue as a dreary socialist clash between the forces of "rich" and "poor" isn't interesting. Not least because it isn't true. The intention of the policy was to promote sub-standard state-controlled transport at the expense of private car users, by forcing them to subsidize it. What a cheek. And if you happen to be a "poor" car user... yeah, well, tough.

Is it better for you if only rich people can afford to drive in the centre of town? Lower income families need not apply?

AdamB said...

Ooh I've never had a "tweet buddy" before. What are they?