Mainline Rail (Supplementary) [1]

Session date: 
March 16, 2016
Question By: 
Valerie Shawcross
Organisation: 
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor

Question

Valerie Shawcross CBE AM:  Thank you very much, Chair.  You mentioned there the proposal by Sadiq Khan to freeze the fares over the next four years if he is elected.  I was hoping to find some illumination in this debate between our two parties on the fares issue and this so-called £1.9 billion in the Business Plan.

 

The Business Plan was published yesterday, and it is somewhat of a feng shui Business Plan inasmuch as there are quite a lot of holes and wind blowing through it.  There is one page of very, very limited information about financial issues over the next five years and the only thing that one can deduce from that - it is a very limited piece of information and I have one sheet here - is that over the five-year period to 2021 the total take on fares would go up under these not-explained proposals by 38%.  Would you like to confirm for me, Mr Mayor, how much of that 38% increase in the fare take would in fact be from fare rises?

 

Supplementary To: 

Answer

Answer for Mainline Rail (Supplementary) [1]

Answer for Mainline Rail (Supplementary) [1]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  This is a matter for the future Mayor, and he or she has committed himself or herself to a real-terms freeze, as I understand it, in his or her fare policy.  The Labour candidate has at least.  The Conservative candidate, Zac Goldsmith [MP for Richmond Park], is rightly going to take advice from TfL.  We had a lengthy conversation about this with Mike Brown [Mike Brown MVO, Commissioner of Transport for London] only a few weeks ago at which you were present and Mike was categorical that it would cost a huge wodge of £1.9 billion ‑‑

 

Valerie Shawcross CBE AM:  No, he was not, Chair.

 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  ‑‑ out of TfL’s budget.  You cannot magic money out of nothing.  I will tell you something very seriously.  If you have an irresponsible fares policy in London, the Treasury will not ride to the rescue.  You will be starving Londoners of cash and it would be a disaster.  

 

Valerie Shawcross CBE AM:  Mr Mayor, in the same way that you say we cannot magic money from nowhere, we cannot magic information from nowhere.  In here, the only thing we are told about the fares is that the fare revenue would go up from £4.8 billion in 2016 to £6.6 billion in 2020.  What you do not say in here is what the retail price index (RPI) is going to be, what the plussage is going to be or what the percentage is going to be of that money that you would see coming from fare increases.

 

Would Londoners be expecting to pay a 38% increase in their fares over that period or are there some other assumptions and would you like to explain them?

 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  We have kept fares at RPI for the last two or three years.  That is a sensible thing to do.  It is the Labour Party’s policy to break away from that and to freeze fares in real terms in an attempt to get elected, which is what it traditionally does.  You will then have to whack fares up vertiginously afterwards because the Treasury will simply not accept it and you will take £2 billion out of TfL’s budget.  If you do that, you will not able to invest ‑‑

 

Valerie Shawcross CBE AM:  You may say that, but why does this Business Plan not give any of that information?  Did you sign this Business Plan off?

 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  This is a TfL Business Plan and I am very pleased that it has produced it, and you will recall ‑‑

 

Valerie Shawcross CBE AM:  Did you edit out the 12 pages of financial data over the next five years that we would normally expect to have ‑‑

 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  No.  Of course not.  No. 

 

Valerie Shawcross CBE AM:  ‑‑ in favour of this light-touch, feng shui budget approach?

 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  You have had ample opportunity at transport questions with Mike Brown and with me to go over this Val, and TfL will be absolutely categorical.  Most people can understand the difference between freezing fares in real terms and having a sensible fares policy.  If you do what your candidate is proposing to do ‑‑

 

Valerie Shawcross CBE AM:  Mr Mayor, I would have loved to have asked a question at the Transport Committee about this. 

 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  ‑‑ which is a return to ‘Livingstonery’, it will simply mean that you hold them down one year and then whack them up by record amounts the next year because you have the deluded idea that somehow you can get money from nowhere.  I can tell you that the Treasury will not ride to the rescue.  What will happen is that you will have to cut valuable upgrades.

 

Valerie Shawcross CBE AM:  Mr Mayor, I would have loved to have asked the Commissioner about this at either a previous MQT or the Transport Committee.  However, you deferred the publication of the Business Plan from November 2015, when it normally comes out, to after all the Transport Committees had finished.  It does suggest to me that along with the disappearance of several pages of financial data that we would normally expect - and five months have also disappeared - either you do not know the answer to the question or you have something to hide.

 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  I do know the answer.  The answer to the question is: do not vote Labour. 

 

Valerie Shawcross CBE AM:  I will leave it there, Chair.

 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  The answer to the question is: do not vote for a massive black hole in TfL’s finances.  That is my advice.

 

Valerie Shawcross CBE AM:  Shall I call this a ‘white hole’, then, Mr Mayor?

 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  No.