Cheaper fares on mayoral agenda

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The Independent Online
KEN LIVINGSTONE will boost his campaign for London mayor by reviving his popular measure of freezing fares for public transport.

Mr Livingstone, writing in The Independent today, pledges to return to the "fares fair" policy that he promoted as leader of the Greater London Council to try to attract more people to use public transport. Rather than setting congestion charges at a punitive level, "enough motorists" would be encouraged to switch to public transport if fares were frozen, he believes.

"Since we would be increasing the cost of motoring in central London, we must encourage motorists to switch back to public transport by giving a guarantee of a four-year fares freeze," Mr Livingstone says. The revenue raised from the charges should be used to run more trains and buses, put in bus lanes and get conductors back on the buses, he says.

Mr Livingstone's proposals come amid increasing government concern over public dissatisfaction with its efforts to improve public transport. Tony Blair is expected to create a "beefed-up" transport portfolio in the looming reshuffle.

Mr Livingstone transformed himself from little-known left-winger to popular GLC leader when he promoted cheap Tube and bus travel in the early 80s. The council was abolished by Margaret Thatcher in 1986.