Posted 8th February 2017 | 2 Comments
Crisis warnings on Transport for London
WARNINGS of looming problems on Transport for London have come from two directions today, although they appear to be possibly contradictory.
The Mayor Sadiq Khan says parts of the Underground will be halted by overwhelming numbers of passengers within a few years unless Crossrail 2 is built, while a separate crisis could arrive even sooner, after it was claimed that revenues have been dented by falling passenger numbers. The Mayor has ordered a fares freeze until 2020, and has also introduced a new 'hopper fare', so that Oyster smartcard users can make a second bus journey within an hour without paying again.
Conservatives on the London Assembly have published statistics of Transport for London operations which were considered at the TfL board's meeting today.
They said the board was told that fares income is down by £90 million because there have been fewer passengers than budgets had predicted, with shortfalls of 14 million passengers on the Underground (£43 million), four million on the Overground (£7 million) accompanied by a further deficit of £51 million on buses, which is being blamed on congestion, and a fall in collected congestion charges which has cost £6 million.
Gareth Bacon, London Assembly Member for Bexley and Bromley, said: “Under the previous administration, TfL’s budget had room to adjust to unexpected changes like income shortfalls, but Sadiq Khan’s costly policies have afforded TfL no such luxury.
“He already needed to find £670 million in savings with his partial fares freeze and hopper fare -- this could now be as high as £760 million. These policies have put London’s transport budget on a knife-edge and are already impacting future investment. Today’s news only worsens this situation.
“This reduced fares income could send the Mayor’s house of cards tumbling down, and it will take years to clean up this mess.”
However, TfL said the figures quoted originated from December, and they 'compare the year to date with our budget predictions. In terms of year on year fares revenue, we are currently up 2 per cent compared to last year. LU ridership is also up 2 per cent.'
City Hall also responded to the claims. Deputy Mayor for Transport Val Shawcross said: “Through the TfL Business Plan, Sadiq has ensured that we can deliver a TfL fares freeze while investing record amounts modernising London’s transport’s infrastructure.
“We are delivering major efficiency savings that have already reduced the net cost of operations by £129 million compared with the first three quarters of 2015/16 – far outweighing this slightly lower fare income – and generating more money from our commercial development. The previous Mayor refused to do it, but in reorganising TfL, we are able to deliver an affordable, accessible, safe and modern transport network for all Londoners.”
Meanwhile, the Mayor himself will say later today that the capital’s transport network will 'grind to a halt under the strain of overcrowding' unless the government backs plans for Crossrail 2.
His warning came as he revealed TfL modelling shows that, without Crossrail 2, at least 17 Underground stations will 'buckle' under crowding pressures and thousands of passengers arriving at Euston on HS2 phase 2 could lose time saved on their journeys as they will have to queue to board onward trains.
Without the new south west–north east connection Crossrail 2 provides, he says that Waterloo and Victoria stations also risk 'rush hour meltdown'.
He will highlight the problem during a speech at the London Transport Museum’s annual fundraising dinner tonight, and say that only by investing in Crossrail 2 will the transport network be able to cope.
According to the Mayor “Crossrail 2 is crucial. It’s crucial to meeting our ambitious targets for new affordable homes. It’s crucial to unlocking future economic growth in the aftermath of the EU referendum. It’s crucial to ensure that Euston station keeps running smoothly when HS2 opens, and it’s crucial if we are to prevent Waterloo, Victoria and many other stations from rush hour meltdown.
“Half the cost of the project can be met through funding from London, but we need the Government to meet the other half if we are to avoid this unbearable strain on our transport network. Crossrail 2 is the answer to help the entire country, because when London succeeds, Britain succeeds.”
TfL is preparing to submit a 'robust' updated business case and funding plan to the transport secretary, who is due to make a decision on further government support in the spring. Construction could start in the early 2020s and the railway could be operational by 2033.
Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.