Statement from the Mayor of London regarding Transport for London

15 May 2020

Sadiq Khan said:

“We have just reached agreement with the Government on a funding package to allow TfL to run public transport safely in London for the next four and a half months. This was necessary because Covid-19 has had a catastrophic impact on TfL’s finances – as it has on every transport provider in the UK.

“I want to be completely honest and upfront with Londoners – this is not the deal I wanted. But it was the only deal the Government put on the table and I had no choice but to accept it to keep the Tubes and buses running.

“In the last few years, London has been the only major city in western Europe that hasn’t received direct Government funding to run day to day transport services since it was cut by the last Government. This means we rely very heavily on passenger fares to pay for the services we run. Fares income has fallen by 90 per cent in the last two months because Londoners have done the right thing and stayed at home – so there simply isn’t enough money coming in to pay for our services.

“We are running as many services as humanly possible given the number of staff off sick, shielding or self-isolating. As staff are returning to work we are increasing services as fast as possible to get back to 100 per cent. From Monday we aim to run around 85 per cent of buses, 75 per cent of Tubes, restore the Circle line and re-open some of the 37 closed stations.

“The Government is, in effect, making ordinary Londoners pay the cost for doing the right thing on Covid-19. They want fares to go up next January – ending the four years fares freeze I delivered after the last election. They have insisted that free travel is temporarily suspended for Freedom Pass and 60-plus card holders at peak times. We agreed it was the right thing to review the Congestion Charge.

“The Government has also insisted that, unlike the deals done elsewhere in the country, TfL takes on £505 million of additional debt. This will undo the hard work we’ve put in to fix TfL’s finances over the last four years – when TfL’s operating deficit has reduced by 71 per cent.

“This deal is a sticking plaster. The old model for funding public transport in London simply does not work in this new reality – fares income will not cover the cost of running services while so few people can safely use public transport. Over the next few months we will have to negotiate a new funding model with Government – which will involve either permanent funding from Government or giving London more control over key taxes so we can pay for it ourselves - or a combination of both.

“TfL and City Hall will do all that we can to enable London’s recovery. We will run as many trains and buses as possible. But we need Londoners’ help. We must not use public transport unless absolutely necessary. People who can work from home must do so. Everyone must walk and cycle more. People should wear a face covering throughout their journeys.

“I promise to continue being as upfront and clear as possible with Londoners about the challenges facing our city. This is not the deal I wanted for our city, but together we can overcome the challenges we face.”

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