Passenger anger as fares go up for Tube travellers

Ministers have not come up with any cash next year for London's ailing Tube despite promises to get people out of their cars and on to public transport. Randeep Ramesh, Transport Correspondent, explains why that means the passenger must pay.
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The Independent Online
Fare increases on London's Underground system of more than double the rate of inflation were announced yesterday and met with a furious response from passenger groups.

Consumer watchdogs accused London Transport of "unacceptable and unreasonable behaviour" after it announced the increases which will see some weekly Travelcards rise by up to 8.9 per cent.

The cost of a zone-one single Underground fare - covering central London - will rise by 10p to pounds 1.30 from next January, resulting in an increase of 30 per cent over the past three years.

The bus network will also see large rises. One-day bus passes for the outer London zones two, three and four will go up by 10p to pounds 2, and weekly bus passes for the same zones will increase by 6.5 per cent to pounds 6.60.

Conscious of the fury the rises would engender, Labour ministers ordered LT to make the announcement yesterday, rather than on Monday. Labour spin doctors consider Friday a "better news day" as people are thinking about the weekend.

The fares increase will raise more than pounds 50m for the network next year. Tory cuts, which have yet to be reversed by Labour ministers, have left the Tube pounds 150m short of the subsidy it expected this year.

To counter suggestions that managers are milking the 1.6 million daily passengers, some inexpensive fares are being introduced. For 16- to 17- year-olds, LT will offer a 30 per cent discount on adult fares for monthly bus and Tube passes.

But Sir Alan Greengross, chairman of the London Regional Passengers Committee, said: "London Transport are blatantly milking the captive market of central London passengers ... This sort of price rise will do nothing to encourage the shift away from the car. Indeed, it can only reverse it."

London Transport claimed it faced a funding cutback of pounds 700m over the next three years and an investment backlog on the Underground of pounds 1.2bn.

A spokesman said: "We have tried to strike a balance between keeping fares attractive to the travelling public and achieving our business need for increased revenue through a real increase in fares."