United Kingdom

Stop playing games and give Tfl funding it needs


The time has surely come for the Government to stop playing silly games with the funding of Transport for London (TfL) and put it on a secure footing.

The latest short-term funding deal finishes at the end of the month.

A decent deal that provides long-term security, without imposing cuts and fare rises, is needed urgently.

The fortunes of TfL were turned on its head, as a result of the Covid pandemic.

Suddenly, a transport system that moved millions of people around everyday saw passenger number practically disappear overnight.

The initial reduction saw more than 90 per cent stop travelling on the public transport system.

People were told in the early stages to avoid public transport for fear of getting Covid.

The virus took a terrible toll on bus drivers, with a number dying. How quickly we seem to forget the sacrifices made by those heroic people.

Today, the Government seems to be using Covid’s legacy to settle old political scores with the Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan.

Up to the pandemic, TFL was going from strength to strength. Services were expanded, with fares frozen for four years.

The Mayor’s transport policy, which seeks to get 80 per cent of people travelling by cycle, foot or public transport by 2041, was progressing well.

TFL was the vehicle for funding many active travel projects across the capital. The cycle network expanded, as a result. A real modal shift has been taking place in the way people get around.

But the Government saw its opportunity to exact political revenge.

A struggling TfL has implications across the country, with jobs right across the UK dependent on the network.

TfL has for a long time represented the best of Britain in providing a sustainable transport network, from the Elizabeth Line to the active travel orientated cycle networks.

This all despite receiving far less in public subsidy than the transport systems of most western capitals.

If the Government is serious about levelling up, it needs to sustain TfL, whilst seeking to bring the rest of the country up to its standards.

The time has come for Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and former London Mayor Boris Johnson to step up and provide the long-term funding that TfL requires.

Paul Donovan is a Redbridge Labour councillor for Wanstead village and blogger. See paulfdonovan.blogspot.com




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