Above-inflation fare rises hit London commuters

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The Independent Online

Commuters face inflation-busting bus and Tube fares rises from the New Year, London Mayor Ken Livingstone announced today.

Commuters face inflation-busting bus and Tube fares rises from the New Year, London Mayor Ken Livingstone announced today.

Bus fares are to rise 10 per cent above the rate of inflation while Tube fares are to go up by inflation plus one per cent from January.

And Mr Livingstone warned there could be another two years of price increases aimed at helping to fund a series of transport capital projects and to provide free travel for under-18s in full-time education.

Mr Livingstone said: "To fund this package there will need to be another increase of this sort of order next year. There might be a third year. With packages this complex you cannot always anticipate the impact."

The Government has given him permission to borrow up to £2.9 billion over five years for capital projects such as the East London Line Extension and the Thames Gateway Bridge.

But to service the debt he needs to dip into his revenue account.

The increases aim to raise an extra £125 million for investment - £80 million on the buses and £45 million on the Tube.

Key changes include:

*The price of taking a bus will increase by 20 per cent to £1.20 a journey.

*An adult weekly zone 1 travelcard rises from £17 to £18.50 and an all zone travelcard increases from £38.30 to £39.50.

*The rise will push up the cost of the adult zone 1 and 2 all-day travel card from £5.30 to £6.

*A one-day bus pass will rise from £2.50 to £3, the same price as in 2000, with weekly bus passes increases from £9.50 to £11.

*Single zone 1 Tube fares have been frozen at £2.

*In an effort to encourage off-peak travel discounted Tube fares will apply on weekdays before 6.30am and after 7pm.

*Discounted travel on the buses for pre-pay Oyster card users.

*Free travel for under-18s in full-time education will be enforced by September 2006 under a phased programme.

Mr Livingstone, who had promised no increases above inflation, claimed the rises were part of the "tough decisions" he had to make now to ensure the capital's transport system does not fall into decay.

Travellers are already paying more after increases last January.

He could not predict that council tax increases would not be above inflation. He said he was committed to increasing police numbers.

Asked at what point he felt Londoners would have feel they had had enough of increases, he said: "If they think enough is enough they will get me out at the next election.

"Perhaps the reason that I'm here is because I take difficult decisions."

He said: "That requires making tough choices now to seize the one-in-a-generation opportunity we have been given to invest nearly £3 billion over the next five years.

"If we want to make that investment we will need to raise fares now to help meet the costs of servicing the additional debt.

"I have no doubt that is the decision which is in the best interests of London. We are embarking on a course which will reverse generation of neglect."

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