Fare rises and bus cuts warning despite TfL securing £1.2bn bailout from the Government

30 August 2022, 18:16 | Updated: 30 August 2022, 18:27

London mayor Sadiq Khan has warned there could still be fare rises and bus cuts, despite securing £1.2billion Government funding.
London mayor Sadiq Khan has warned there could still be fare rises and bus cuts, despite securing £1.2billion Government funding. Picture: LBC/Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

Commuters are being warned they could face further fare rises and bus cuts despite Transport for London (TfL) striking a £1.2 billion bailout from the Government.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

TfL has today agreed a deal with the Government in a bid to "avoid bankruptcy" and to help the service cope with potential lost revenue caused by uncertainty over post-pandemic demand.

It follows months of negotiations between TfL and the Department for Transport (DfT), however the mayor of London Sadiq Khan says the terms of the funding are "far from ideal".

He has warned fares could increase and some vital bus routes may still need to be cut - but insists this will be far fewer than under the original offer made last month.

Mr Khan told LBC: "I've been standing up for Londoners, so on three occasions we have sent the deal back to the Government.

Read more: Full list of London bus routes facing the axe in TfL cuts

Read more: Eurostar axes direct trains from London to Disneyland Paris over Brexit

Sadiq Khan fields questions on TFL funding deal

"We have made some major wins, some concessions have been made by the Government, and that's good news because it means we avoid managed decline - 18% cuts in our buses, 9% cuts in our Tubes, but I'm afraid we still have a massive funding gap which could lead to fares going up, and could lead to bus routes being cut."

TfL will receive around £1.2 billion of funding from the Government until the end of March 2024 - should passenger numbers not recover at the rate budgeted for.

However, Mr Khan said there will be a funding gap of £740 million over the next 20 months.

He also accused the Government of "seeming determined to provoke further industrial action" under the terms of the agreement, which require him to continue work on introducing driverless trains on the London Underground and seek pension reforms.

Assurances over revenue will enable TfL to commit to £3.6 billion on investment projects.

These include new Piccadilly line trains as well as modernisations and upgrades, such as support for the repair of Hammersmith Bridge and extension of the Northern line.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps on new settlement

The capital's transport body has been reliant on money from the Government to keep services running during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Government says its support now totals more than £6 billion.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said it's time to "put politics to one side and get on with the job".

Speaking tonight to LBC's Tom Swarbrick, the Transport Secretary claimed this deal could have been signed earlier, were it not for members of the TfL board going on holiday.

He told Tom: "It's been frustrating getting here. This deal has been on the table for weeks, the TfL board went off on holiday rather than signing it off, and I have been sitting here waiting - I haven't been anywhere this summer - I've been waiting to make sure this deal is in place, so it's not without frustration.

"The mayor likes to play a lot of politics with it, all I wanted to do was get the deal over the line so Londoners know that the transport network is secured - which it now is for the future."

He added: "For over two years now we've time and again shown our unwavering commitment to London and the transport network it depends on, but we have to be fair to taxpayers across the entire country.

"This deal more than delivers for Londoners and even matches the mayor's own pre-pandemic spending plans, but for this to work the mayor must follow through on his promises to get TfL back on a steady financial footing, stop relying on Government bailouts and take responsibility for his actions.

"Now is the time to put politics to one side and get on with the job - Londoners depend on it."

In a statement, Transport for London commissioner Andy Byford said the "hard-won" agreement would benefit the whole country.

He said: "There is no UK recovery without a London recovery, and no London recovery without a properly funded transport network.

"The agreement with Government means that across the funding period, TfL expects to receive further base funding of around £1.2 billion from Government until March 2024 and gives TfL ongoing revenue support should passenger numbers not recover at the rate budgeted, which is crucial at this time of ongoing economic uncertainty.

"It helps us avoid large-scale cuts to services, and means that we will commit £3.6 billion to capital investment over the period, with around £200 million of new capital funding from Government beyond previously budgeted sources like business rates, which were devolved to the Mayor in 2017."