London’s transport system faces a return to ‘the bad old days’ unless it gets a near £6 billion bailout to keep it going for the next 18 months, the capital’s mayor has warned.
Sadiq Khan is calling for a £5.7 billion package of funding for Transport for London (TfL), in an attempt to keep the capital’s transport system operating amid the coronavirus crisis.
With passenger numbers nosediving since the pandemic began, Mr Khan – who also serves as the chairman of Transport for London (TfL) – pleaded for the cash in a submission to the government’s spending review, according to the Financial Times.
The service, which mainly relies on income from fares to run the city’s tubes, buses and trains, had initially secured 1.6 billion pounds in government funding in May to cover a shortfall in revenue until October.
But with restrictions on public transport likely to be in place for months, Mr Khan said: ‘I need to be honest about what is at stake if the Government fails to provide TfL, which has played a vital role throughout the pandemic, with the appropriate funding it needs to function.
‘Transport operators across the world have been hit harder than ever as a result of passengers following advice and staying home during the pandemic – TfL is no exception, and further borrowing is not a viable solution.’
He continued: ‘The choice is stark: a safe and effective transport network that continues to deliver for Londoners and support jobs in the capital and across the UK, or a Government-led spiral of disinvestment that sees vital infrastructure age and fail – wasting hundreds of millions of pounds, stalling economic recovery, and taking us back to the deteriorated transport network of the 80s and 90s.
‘I remember what it was like 20 years ago before the sustained investment we’ve seen over the last two decades – crumbling Tube lines, unreliable services, old-fashioned ticketing system and lack of coordination. We must not return to the bad old days.’
In July, TfL said it would need funding of £2 billion for the second half of the year, up to 300 million pounds more than it outlined in an earlier emergency budget, as passenger numbers remained low due to Covid-19 restrictions.
In his submission, Mr Khan suggested ticket sales income had fallen ‘around 90 percent as a result of lockdown, and will be nowhere near returning to normal levels as long as social distancing measures are in place’, the FT reported.
Separately, the Mayor has called for stronger restrictions on the capital to stop the spread of coronavirus and an ‘immediate review’ of the ‘counter-productive’ 10pm curfew rule.
There are fears that London could face new lockdown restrictions in the coming days.
Metro.co.uk has contacted the Department for Transport for comment.
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