Don't 'price us off' London transport, warns passenger group

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The Independent Online

Londoners must not be "priced off" public transport by new year fare rises, a passenger group said today.

London mayor Boris Johnson is set to announce the 2010 Tube and London bus fare levels tomorrow, with the new fares due to take effect from January.

"We certainly do not want to see fares rising above the level of inflation," said Jo deBank of transport passenger watchdog London TravelWatch.

She went on: "We are worried that fares will go up. We appreciate that times are hard for Transport for London but we don't think this is the time to start pricing people off public transport."

Some national mainline rail fares, including season tickets, are regulated and cannot rise annually by more than the level of retail price index (RPI) inflation plus 1 per cent.

The January rises are based on the previous July's RPI figure - which this year was in minus territory at minus 1.4 per cent - meaning that regulated fares will actually fall in January 2010.

The London Mayor is not bound by a set formula when it comes to the capital's Underground or bus fares.

However, last year Mr Johnson announced fare rises of 6 per cent for Tubes and buses for January 2009 which was in line with the regulated mainline fare increase.

There have been reports that London fares might have to rise by as much as 7 per cent in January 2010 to plug a gap in Transport for London's investment programme.

The financial situation has also not been helped by a dip in Underground passenger numbers due to the recession.