TfL faces an existential funding crisis if government won’t play ball, that could mean no more walking or cycling schemes in London. Send an email today to your London representatives in Parliament, the London Assembly and your council via London TravelWatch’s site. Call for government to level up transport across England but not level down London.
Take the action on London TravelWatch site
LCC has joined with numerous other London transport, environment and public organisations to support the London TravelWatch action to call for a fair deal on funding London’s transport systems. Without this deal, the Mayor and TfL warn, that London will have to face a future of “managed decline” where as a best case, and immediate scenario, tube services could be cut by almost 10%, buses by near 20% and we could see an immediate and total cut to all walking & cycling “active travel” schemes. No more cycle tracks, no more LTNs, no more cycle training, no more cycle parking. Nothing.
At the start of the Covid crisis in March 2020, ridership numbers collapsed on both bus and tube, and they have not since got anywhere near previous levels. Nearly all of TfL’s funding was until then based on charging users for bus and tube journeys – and indeed, for several years, the government has been gradually removing subsidies and funding from TfL, and telling London that it has to be self-sufficient on public transport funding.
At the point ridership collapsed, TfL finances went into a nosedive. The tubes and buses largely continued running, but the money wasn’t coming in – and Crossrail still needed to be finished, bridges needed maintenance etc. also. Instead, the DfT provided some of the shortfall in a series of six monthly deals, the current one runs out on 11 December – in a few weeks.
With each of these deals, the government has clearly been engaging in brinkmanship with the Mayor and TfL, not even initiating negotiations until the last possible day, and imposing increasingly clear conditions on both how the funding is spent and by when, but also other issues. As a result, two government appointees (including ex-Cycling Commissioner under then Mayor Boris Johnson, Andrew Gilligan) now sit on the TfL board. With each funding deal, government has also reiterated that London, unlike every other major global city, must not cost the exchequer anything come next year.
This comes on top of a slower than expected recovery to the Covid crisis in London – and impacts on ridership and TfL finances therefore from both return to commuting and tourism, and rising costs, and Crossrail and other issues. The end result is that we’ve never seen or heard TfL and City Hall more openly panicked than now on funding. And they predict that unless funding is found, the worst case scenario now is shutting an entire tube line (or near 10% of tubes), near 20% of bus services, a “managed decline” of assets including bridges and tunnels across the Thames, and no more funding for cycling and walking beyond the end of current projects in construction.
That’s why we’ve joined with such a wide coalition of organisations to demand a fair deal for London – for public transport and active travel, as well as climate. We already co-signed London TravelWatch and London First’s letter to the Chancellor alongside organisations including Campaign for Better Transport, C40 Cities, Centre for London, Clean Cities, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, justfair, London Age UK, Mums For Lungs, Possible, Sustrans, Transport Action Network, Transport For All, and Unite. And it’s expected many of these and more will back the new London TravelWatch action – as should you.
That’s also why we’ve already co-signed three letters to government on the need for proper funding for #ClimateSafeStreets – as short-term and smaller funding deals for TfL means less action on climate in London.
There is also of course more the Mayor could do, to alleviate this situation – now really is the time to stop trying to roll back the congestion charge to run fewer hours in evenings and weekends, to not spend any more on the Silvertown Tunnel and as a priority to move London towards smart road-user pricing based on time, location, vehicle emissions etc. And we’re continuing to press those cases, but doing those would still need government to act fairly for London before 11 December and beyond.
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