TfL Gets £1.6bn Bailout That Screws Over Londoners With Price Hikes in Fares and Congestion Charges

By Shabana Arif on at

Transport for London is getting a £1.6bn bailout so that it can keep its services running between now and September which includes a £500m loan.

The bailout comes with caveats and doesn't sit well with London Mayor Sadiq Khan by the sounds of things, with a source from his office saying:

"The government has belatedly agreed financial support for TfL to deal with COVID-19 - as they have for every other train and bus operator in the country.

"But they have forced ordinary Londoners to pay a very heavy price for doing the right thing on COVID-19 by hiking TfL fares, temporarily suspending the Freedom Pass at busy times and loading TfL with debt that Londoners will pay for in the long run."

According to TfL, if an agreement hadn't been reached by the close of play yesterday, it would have had to issue a Section 114 notice, for public bodies going tits up. Under the bailout terms, TfL must provide 'Stay Alert' signage throughout the network, report the rates of staff absenteeism, and agree to a review of its finances. Government officials have also joined TfL's board, and bus and Tube fares will also be hiked up by 1 per cent above inflation, which contradicts Sadiq Khan's election campaign pledge, which isn't ideal at all but given the shitty circumstances we find ourselves in, may have been unavoidable.

Shaun Bailey, London mayor Conservative candidate, seems to think it was unavoidabl and that the government had to step in because:

"The coronavirus highlighted existing structural flaws within TfL's balance sheet - the primary cause was our profligate mayor."

Public transport across the country has been buggered during lockdown, and when Prime Minister Boris Johnson talked about getting back to work this week, he said that services like buses and tubes would have the appropriate safety provisions for staff and commuters - like all other workplaces are required to roll out. That seems to be not the case at all, given the clips shared by Sky News this week that show commuters flouting social distancing rules and cramming onto tubes and buses with no masks on. And while they're at fault for being that stupid and reckless, clearly no effort has been made by the authorities running these services to implement any of the necessary measures required to avoid a second peak of the virus which is fucking bonkers.

As well as fares increasing, London's congestion charge is getting bumped up from £11.50 per day, to £15 from June 22. During lockdown, the charge was temporarily suspended, but it's back with a vengeance with increased hours of operation from 7am to 10pm all week long, as opposed to not being implemented on weekends. This will apparently "encourage Londoners not to make unnecessary car journeys, and is expected to reduce journeys within the congestion charge zone by a third," according to the Mayor's office. [BBC News]

Feature image credit: Unsplash