TfL fare rises

MQT on 2014-02-26
Session date: 
February 26, 2014
Question By: 
John Biggs
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Has the Government compensated TfL for the confusion over how much the fares rise would be this year?


Answer for TfL fare rises

Answer for TfL fare rises

Answered By: 
The Mayor

For the benefit of people who do not know what John is referring to here, before Christmas there was - as there normally is - a discussion between us and the Government about how we were going to organise the fares package for 2014/15 and it would be fair to say that - as Stephen [Knight], who is not in his place, brilliantly pointed out - the lead showed by City Hall stamped the Government into holding fares down to the retail price index (RPI), which was the right policy for the country.  There is a nominal question of whether they should reimburse us for the foregone revenue from the TfL side of things.  As it happens that has already been more than amply made up by Government contributions.  I might single out the £200 million funding that we just secured for buying the Crossrail trains, which many times over makes up that gap.


John Biggs AM:  Remind me.  Are you the same Mayor who essentially said hell would freeze over before you could not increase fares by greater than inflation in previous years?


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  No, I am the same Mayor who said I would bear down on fares, which is what I have done.  I have borne down.


John Biggs AM:  Are you the same Mayor who when challenged on this said the £30 million costs - which you then multiplied by ten to make it sound bigger, so therefore a £300 million cost - over ten years was ruinous and would prevent us from investing in London’s transport?


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Are you saying I was wrong?  Are you saying I was wrong to hold down fares?


John Biggs AM:  If you are the same Mayor ‑‑


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I am he.


John Biggs AM:  ‑‑ you are now nonchalantly waving away £21 million you have lost as a result of the Government messing up their analysis.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I have not.  We have not lost a penny.


John Biggs AM:  Then you are being hypocritical because ‑‑


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  No, no, come on.  Let us be clear.  Are you the same Biggs who campaigned less than two years ago on a manifesto to cut fares by 7%?  Does anybody remember that?  Yes, 7%, which was going to cost billions in revenue.  It was completely the wrong policy for London.  Is that policy still operative?


John Biggs AM:  Interestingly, philosophically, I am not actually the same Biggs now but the ‑‑


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Are you not?  Which Biggs are you?


John Biggs AM:  What I do want is for Londoners to get the £21 million they have lost and for you to feel as feverishly angry about this as you are when it suits you.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  As I say, we have already plentifully recouped whatever emotional downside there may have been.  Actually, if you were the Treasury you might say that we had cost them more than £80 million because, if you remember, they had to hold fares down at RPI.


John Biggs AM:  I am pretty clear that the record shows that you are nonchalant about this from your ‑‑


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I am not nonchalant.  I am not nonchalant at all.  It was right.  Look, there is a balance to be struck.


John Biggs AM:  Which is?


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  If you cut fares too hard then what happens --


John Biggs AM:  It is a very specific question.  I am asking why you are not banging on the Chancellor’s door saying, “Give us our money.  You have cost us serious cash”.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  We are in constant negotiation with Government about all sorts of sums.  We just happened to have obtained a further £200 million which is essential for buying the Crossrail trains.  In the grand scheme of things, they could very well point out that our decision to go for holding fares down at RPI, which bounced them into holding fares down to RPI, cost the Treasury £80 million and money well spent, by the way, money well spent.  In tough times it was right to hold fares down at RPI, a point I made to the Chancellor and which he then accepted once we had done it.  As Stephen Knight rightly said, “Rail passengers from Cornwall to Corby had Boris Johnson to thank”.