Sadiq Khan: TfL have to plan a ‘managed decline’ of London’s public transport network

Image above: Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said on Friday that the Government’s refusal to agree long term funding for Transport for London meant that TfL had no choice but to plan for ‘managed decline’ of London’s public transport network.

On Friday night (18 December) TfL announced the emergency Government bailout to keep Tubes and buses running was being extended until February 2022. There have been a succession of short term deals done with the Department of Transport since the pandemic plunged TfL’s finances into crisis.

The most recent ran out on Friday. The new one will last until 4 February but Sadiq Khan says nothing has changed. They will still have to make cuts to bus and tube services:

“The Government is still refusing to properly fund Transport for London which has been severely affected by Covid, yet again only providing a short-term funding deal that will only last a matter of weeks. This means that nothing has changed in terms of TfL having to plan on the basis of a managed decline of the capital’s public transport network.

“As a condition of the emergency short-term funding TfL needs to avoid collapse, the Government is forcing us to raise additional revenue in London through measures, like council tax, that will unfairly punish Londoners for the way the pandemic has hit our transport network. Despite these measures, only a long-term funding deal with the Government, including additional capital funding, will be enough to avoid significant and damaging cuts to tube and bus services.”

About 100 bus routes are under threat and 200 more are looking at reductions in the service. Older buses and tube trains are not being replaced as planned.

READ ALSO: Sadiq Khan warns of huge cuts to Tube and bus services and cycle lane programme

From the Government’s side, journalists have been told extending the bailout until February would allow Ministers time to assess the impact of the Omicron variant on travel patterns and TfL’s fares.

Image above: Heidi Alexander 

Heidi Alexander steps down

It was announced on Monday (20 December) that Deputy Mayor for Transport Heidi Alexander would be stepping down. The former MP for Lewisham East had planned to leave the role at the end of Sadiq’s first term earlier this year, but stayed on to try and help secure funding.

The Mayor announced that former Labour MEP Seb Dance would be her successor as Deputy Mayor. He was Vice Chair of the Environment committee in the European parliament while he was an MEP (2014 to 2020).

Sadiq Khan thanked Heidi for her work and praised her leadership:

“In particular, I’d like to pay tribute to Heidi for tirelessly leading TfL through the pandemic – the most difficult period in its history.

“She is without doubt one of the most dedicated, resilient and respected politicians I have ever worked with and I wish her all the best for the future.”

Seb Dance takes on the job at an equally challenging time.

Image above: Seb Dance

London’s transport of ‘national importance’

Sadiq Khan made the case that London’s transport system isn’t just a local or regional concern, but a national one and the Government should recognise that:

“The Government needs to realise that a properly-funded transport network in London is an issue of great national importance. TfL has a critical role to play in driving the economic recovery in both the capital and the rest of the country. London’s net contribution to the Treasury was £36bn in the year before the pandemic, and TfL contracts contribute around £7bn to the UK economy while supporting 43,000 jobs around the country.

“The COVID pandemic is the only reason TfL is facing a financial crisis, and it’s clear the pandemic is far from over. The Government’s short-term deals are trapping TfL on life support, rather than putting it on a path to long-term sustainability. This damaging, unnecessary and clearly politically driven approach cannot continue. Over the next seven weeks, I urge Ministers to start engaging with TfL and City Hall in good faith so that we can finally agree a long-term funding deal that will protect London’s transport network – for the sake of the capital and the whole country.”

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