London Tube and bus fares to be frozen until 2020, Sadiq Khan announces

Mayor says he is giving money back to Londoners but critics point out freeze will not cover travel cards and other fares

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The Independent Online

Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, has confirmed some Tube and bus fares in the capital will be frozen until 2020.

The freeze will apply to buses, trams and pay-as-you-go Tube travel but the thousands of Londoners who use weekly, monthly or annual travel cards will see their fares rise by two per cent in January.

People using London overground train services that are not run by Transport for London (Tfl) will also have to pay more.

City Hall said the freeze would save the average London household £200 over the next four years and apply to four million journeys a day. That equates to one in eight of the 31 million journeys that are made daily on the TfL network.

The London Mayor is unable to freeze travel card fares because these are determined by the Government in conjunction with private train companies. Travel cards include other methods of transport not managed by TfL, namely London overground trains, that fall under government control.

The pay-as-you-go (PAYG) cap that limits how much passengers are charged each day will also be raised, meaning anyone who makes multiple journeys in one day will still have to pay more.

Critics have suggested this means Mr Khan has failed to fulfil his promise, made during the election campaign earlier this year, that Londoners “would not pay a penny more” in transport costs under his mayoralty. 

The Mayor has called on the Government to intervene and freeze the prices of London travel cards and train services. 

“Our TfL fares freeze will save an average household £200 over the next four years, putting money back into people’s pockets and playing an important role encouraging more Londoners onto public transport," Mr Khan said.

“I’m now demanding that the Government follows my lead and freezes fares on London’s suburban rail routes, where passengers have been hit by unacceptable delays, cancellations and overcrowding.

"It’s simply not right that London’s rail passengers face another fares hikes caused by the Government next year – the onus is on the Government to ensure every passenger in London gets the fares freeze they deserve.” 

Caroline Pidgeon, a Liberal Democrat London Assembly Member, said the Mayor had failed to fulfil his promise to Londoners.

“Sadiq Khan’s manifesto specifically said that Londoners won’t pay a penny more for their travel in 2020 than they do today. There were no ifs, or buts, in that statement," she said.

“However much the Mayor attempts to spin the issue his announcement today confirms that many Londoners will see their travel cards and their PAYG caps on travelcards increase next year.    

“Instead of boasting about his fare announcement, the Mayor should now be concentrating on tackling the chronic problem of overcrowding. Introducing half price travel for TfL rail journeys that start before 7.30am would help many low-paid workers but also play a critical role in reducing overcrowding.”

The cost of a Zone 1-4 travel card rose by 29 per cent during previous mayor Boris Johnson’s eight years in City Hall, while the price of a single bus fare increased by 67 per cent.

Mr Khan's promise to put a stop to rising fares led TfL and others to warn that such a policy would limit the potential for investment in London’s over-stretched transport system.

However, following Mr Khan’s election, TfL announced it would, after all, be able to cover the costs of the policy without reducing investment. 

The £640m cost of the fares freeze will be covered by “efficiency savings”, including cutting TfL's reliance on agency staff and reducing the number of highly paid executives it employs.