Fares in 2016

Meeting: 
MQT on 2015-09-16
Session date: 
September 16, 2015
Reference: 
2015/2758
Question By: 
Valerie Shawcross
Organisation: 
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor
Category: 

Question

The Government has announced that rail fares will rise by the RPI+0% for the duration of this Parliament. Your current TfL business plan states TfL fares will rise by RPI+1%. Will you follow the Government's lead and freeze fares or will you continue to raise fares above the level of inflation?

Answer

Answer for Fares in 2016

Answer for Fares in 2016

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Thanks, Val.  I have announced that I will hold onto TfL fares in January at the Retail Price Index (RPI) plus zero.  That is a sensible rate.  It is where we have kept it for the last couple of years.  That moderate increase will nonetheless enable us to deliver the things we need; the Northern line extension, air-conditioned trains on the Tube, extra carriages on the [London] Overground, extra bus capacity, the cycle revolution and so on. 

Valerie Shawcross CBE AM:  Do you not accept that your business plan therefore, which is based on RPI plus 1%, is out of kilter with what you have delivered this year?  Would it not make more sense to decide that you should be aligning your Fare Strategy with that of the Government’s Rail Strategy as at least a minimum move to deal with high fares in London?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  I understand the point you make.  As far as I understand it, I do not think that the core stuff we need to deliver is affected by our fares package.  TfL has advised me we can get on and deliver those big improvements and investments that we need.

Valerie Shawcross CBE AM:  In your time in office, Mr Mayor, I notice that you have raised the London Living Wage by 27% but the weekly bus pass has actually gone up by 62% over that time.  You have been hitting the poorest in society with your fare-busting rises.  Do you accept now that the high fares in London - that have been set by you - are a serious issue for Londoners?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  I would love to cut fares much more than we can at the moment.  The trouble is that you have got to keep a stable fare income.  You have got to be reasonable with Londoners and that is what we have sought to do.  Over the lifetime of this mayoralty you have had a very, very steady policy.  I have made no inflated promises.  I have not cut them dramatically and then whacked them up.  I have been consistent.  We have continued to deliver all the concessions that are not available in any other part of the country.  Older people in this city get free travel, over 60 men and women.  It is not available anywhere else.

Valerie Shawcross CBE AM:  Those are very important concessions, Mr Mayor.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  For younger people we extended it to 24-hours a day by the way, if you remember.

Valerie Shawcross CBE AM:  They are very important concessions that we all in this Chamber want to see continued.  However, there is an issue for working people.  What would be your response to Stephen Greenhalgh [Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime and prospective Conservative candidate for the 2016 Mayoral election], who used his appearance on LBC to suggest that you had failed to clamp down on TfL’s overheads and that passengers were paying too much as a result.  He described TfL as “an organisation that can be leaner and more efficient” with scope for back office savings.  He said, “We have to have a mayoralty that is not going to continue to fleece the fare-paying public”.  What do you say to Stephen Greenhalgh?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  I yield to no-one in my admiration for the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime.  He has done a fantastic job and continues to preside over reductions in crime that are very, very creditable to him and to the police generally.

I disagree with him if he is saying that we can now have dramatic cuts in fares.  From memory, Val, you used to campaign for a 7% fare cut.  I do not think you now hold to that position.  You then jettisoned that and you were right to do so.

Valerie Shawcross CBE AM:  Mr Mayor, I am trying to tackle the issue of your over-charging on the fares.  Do you not think he might be alluding to the fact you have wasted a lot of money on your watch within TfL’s budget?  There have been a lot of side issues that have had funding.  We have had the Estuary Airport money, the unnecessary element of money on the Routemaster and £30 million on the Garden Bridge.  You have not been, by any measure, a tight administration on finances at City Hall.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  That is absolute nonsense.  As you know, we cut billions out of the budget at TfL.  We sold about 40 buildings around London.  We got rid of huge numbers of staff.  I would just remind you that one of the reasons that we have had some difficulties with London Underground trade unions is because we pushed forward a programme of modernisation that has made it necessary to cut 800 jobs in the first wave and our staffing more recently.  You really could not fault us for taking a knife to the things that needed to be cut at TfL.  We continue to do that.

Valerie Shawcross CBE AM:  I could fault you, Mr Mayor. 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  You could try.

Valerie Shawcross CBE AM:  People have seen enormous cuts to the services.  You hunt in vain for a ticket office if you want a conversation in London.  You have put the fares up.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Why would you go to a ticket office if you want a conversation?  You can have a conversation with anybody.

Valerie Shawcross CBE AM:  You have put the fares up by twice the rate of Ken Livingstone [former Mayor of London].  Do you not think, therefore, that you will actually be responding to Stephen Greenhalgh by telling him you have in fact cut the wrong things and you have not cut the waste?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  No.  We have had dramatic cuts in waste.  All the projects that you specify are of trivial impact on the budget.  I would remind you that under the previous administration, that you supported, there were tens of millions of pounds spent on projects such as ‑‑

Valerie Shawcross CBE AM:  The Olympics; the Overground.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  ‑‑ £34 million on the West London Tram and £20 million on the Cross River Tram.  Has anybody seen in London a West London Tram?  Has anybody spotted the Cross River Tram?

Valerie Shawcross CBE AM:  Chairman, I am out of time now.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Tens of millions of pounds.  Where are they?  At least the projects that I delivered exist.  The things I spent money on have the merit of existing.

Tony Arbour AM (Deputy Chairman):  Mr Mayor, that will do.