Five Billion Savings TfL Business Plan 2009-2018 (Supplementary) [1]

Session date: 
November 18, 2009
Question By: 
Richard Tracey
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Mr Mayor, despite that long discussion with our colleague, Val Shawcross, I think it has to be right that Londoners across the board will be really shocked to hear that the bus subsidy is now over £600 million a year and, as you said in your answer, it has gone up from about £20 million. Councillor Phil Taylor in Ealing is regularly writing to us about this constantly climbing bus subsidy and, at the same time, various people write to us to say they do believe that there are too many empty buses running about the roads, particularly in the middle of the day.

I think you said that the subsidy comes from the Treasury so, even in the unlikely event of another Labour Government, it would surely have to cut the bus subsidy. Presumably, a Conservative Chancellor will also have to look very carefully at it. So we really have got to tackle this, surely, and we have got to listen to Londoners who do believe that there are too many empty buses on the roads at certain times of the day.


Answer for Five Billion Savings TfL Business Plan 2009-2018 (Supplementary) [1]

Answer for Five Billion Savings TfL Business Plan 2009-2018 (Supplementary) [1]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Yes. I have got to be very careful here, Dick --

Richard Tracey (AM): Of course.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): -- in seeming to agree to agree with you too vehemently. We have looked at this time and again. Steve Norris [Board Member, TfL] did a review of the bus services beginning from a position of extreme scepticism - and Members of the TfL Board will know exactly what took place - about our bus service. He thought it was grossly bloated. Actually what we are providing, I think, is a fantastic service. I am really with Val [Shawcross] on this. This is a service that is indispensible to people around London. It is greatly improved. I do not want to see a reduction of that service. I want to see it continue to grow in the way that it is forecast to grow under the business plan.

There are things that we are trying to do to reduce empty buses on the streets in the middle of the day. It is very, very difficult. A bus service is, essentially, a peak time service. Unless you just shunt them off and park them somewhere it is difficult to get rid of the phenomenon of a seemingly empty bus in the middle of the day.

Richard Tracey (AM): I recollect hearing from TfL buses recently that the average rider level across London is actually ten passengers.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): No, it is 16 passengers and it has been going up.

Richard Tracey (AM): Across London?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Across London.

Richard Tracey (AM): I thought there were certain routes where, indeed, it is over ten, but I have a recollection -- I stand corrected --

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): My information - I saw Caroline [Pidgeon] nodding helpfully there - from my memory, 16 passengers is average ridership on a bus at the moment. It has been going up steadily.

Richard Tracey (AM): Thank you.

Darren Johnson (Chair): Thank you. We will move on to the next question but can I just point out that if Members do want to introduce visual aids into the session they must approach officers beforehand so that we can take a view as to whether it is appropriate to circulate them - whether it is maps, graphs, charts or whatever - but we cannot have people holding things up in the meeting that are completely unreadable for the rest of us.