Higher Tube fares and bus cuts likely as TfL funding deal reached

Above: library image, London Underground

Tube fares could rise by 14%

Tube fares could rise up to 14% and bus routes will be cut, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said, after Transport for London (TfL) agreed to accept a £1.2bn funding settlement from the Government.

The Department for Transport (DfT) reached the deal with TfL on Tuesday (30 August) to keep public transport running. TfL welcomed the deal and said it would avert the “managed decline” of the transport network.

The new funding package, which lasts until 31 March 2024, is the sixth bailout for TfL, whose revenues plummeted during the Covid-19 pandemic as people stayed home.

It includes almost £1.2bn of upfront funding which will allow new Piccadilly line trains to be built, as well as upgrades to three Tube lines.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) says the settlement, which has conditions likely affecting workers pension schemes, will lead to an “attack” on Tube workers’ pay and pensions.

Image above: library image, shuttered Tube station during strikes

More strikes possible as RMT criticises deal

The deal guarantees a level of revenue until March 2024, but still will leave TfL looking for about £230m in extra savings over the next two years.

City Hall believes it has won enough concessions to head off the worst-case cuts, avoiding having to scrap free travel for under-18s and giving TfL some leeway on the controversial pension reform. It will now have to provide options rather than proposals for workers’ pensions. One of which, TfL said, would be to do nothing.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch accused the government and TfL of negotiating the deal “in secret” and said the arrangement would “likely see our members’ pensions attacked and further pay restraint in the future, coupled with driverless trains.”

“Grant Shapps’ attack on Tube workers would be unacceptable at any time but in an escalating, cost-of-living crisis it is shameful and will be resisted through further strike action,” he said.

The RMT union has called a series of strikes on the Tube this year in a dispute over pay and conditions, with members also taking part in national rail strikes.

Image above: TfL Commissioner Andy Byford, London Mayor Sadiq Khan

Deal “protects us for longer than we expected” says TfL boss

Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps said:

“For over two years now we’ve time and again shown our unwavering commitment to London and the transport network it depends on, but we have to be fair to taxpayers across the entire country.

“This deal more than delivers for Londoners and even matches the Mayor’s own pre-pandemic spending plans but for this to work, the Mayor must follow through on his promises to get TfL back on a steady financial footing, stop relying on Government bailouts and take responsibility for his actions. Now is the time to put politics to one side and get on with the job – Londoners depend on it.”

TfL Commissioner Andy Byford said:

“We have stuck up for Londoners and fought to get a fair quantum. It’s not the three-year deal we wanted, but it protects us for a longer period than we expected.

“We will need to progress with our plans to further modernise our organisation and make ourselves even more efficient, and we will still face a series of tough choices in the future, but London will move away from the managed decline of the transport network.”

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