Ping. An email arrives from Ken Livingstone personal fan club, Progressive London, on the theme Bad Fare Day. It says:
This year Boris Johnson hits Londoners with the biggest ever fare increase in real terms in Transport for London's history. Some fares are increasing by 20%.
Unite the Union have organised to leaflet at key transport hubs across London on 4th January.
Help is needed to give out the leaflets at transport hubs on 4th January 2010.
There is a case that the fares rise are unjustified as the Mayor of London Boris Johnson could have gone further in cutting costs at Transport for London while still protecting the investment programme – certainly given the £3 billion a year subsidy TfL gets from central Government.
But the Labour Party are scarcely in a position to make this case. It was under Livingstone's stewardship that the number of TfL bureaucrats on six figure salaries escalated. At the last mayoral elections Livingstone promised a fares freeze but Brian Cooke, the then London TravelWatch chairman, exposed this as "misleading" – TfL were planning increases. Leaked TfL emails confirmed Livingstone duplicity over his plans for fares.
Then there was also the reality of Livingstone record. In his first term he put tube fares up 25%. His second term saw sharper increases including in 2005 a 20% rise in cash bus fares and an above inflation rise in tube fares and 2006 where fares also rose more sharply. The fares package for 2010 means that, overall, bus fares will rise by 12.7 per cent and Tube fares by 3.9 per cent. This is comparable to fare increases introduced in 2005 and 2006, when bus and Tube fares increased by 12.7 per cent and 4 per cent, and then by 12.9 per cent and 3.9 per cent respectively.
It is due to the severity of the recession, for which Gordon Brown must take substantial responsibility, that the numbers using the tube are down 6%. This has left a hole in revenues. It was Gordon Brown who was the architectof the disastrous Metronet PPP deal leaving TfL with a billion pound bill.
For the trade unions to be protesting about the fares rise is the biggest hypocrisy of all. They are not exactly allies of the Mayor in his drive for greater efficiency and lower costs.
Boris has so far cut TfL costs by half a billion a year. Are those on the Left who don't want fare rises prepared to back a tougher approach? Or are the Labour Government are willing to increase their £3 billion annual subsidy….