Coronavirus: Transport for London bailout of £1.8bn agreed by government

Capital’s transport body says agreement will allow operation until spring

Emily Goddard
Sunday 01 November 2020 15:48
<p>Grant Shapps says deal is ‘fair to taxpayers across the country’</p>

Grant Shapps says deal is ‘fair to taxpayers across the country’

The government and Transport for London have agreed an eleventh-hour £1.8bn bailout to keep Tube and bus services running in the capital for a further six months.

The deal sees the scrapping of proposed measures including a huge extension of the congestion charge zone, above-inflation fare hikes and the end of free travel for children and pensioners.

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, said he was pleased to have “killed off the very worst government proposals” but described the agreement as “not ideal”. 

“These negotiations with government have been an appalling and totally unnecessary distraction at a time when every ounce of attention should have been focused on trying to slow the spread of Covid-19 and protecting jobs,” he said.

Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, said the agreement is “fair to taxpayers across the country”.

TfL’s finances took a severe hit from the collapse in fare revenue during the pandemic.

Boris Johnson last month claimed the capital’s transport body was “effectively bankrupted” before the virus crisis, and proposals to hike charges were “entirely the responsibility” of Mr Khan.

Amendments to the congestion charge introduced in June as part of a previous bailout – a 30 per cent increase in the fee and longer operating hours – will remain in place under the new deal.

The exact amount of money involved in the package is subject to passenger revenue in the coming months, but it is expected to reach around £1.8bn in grants and loans.

TfL will carry out cost savings to make up a remaining £160m “gap” based on its forecasts.

Mr Shapps said: “Just as we’ve done for the national rail operators, we’ll make up the fare income which TfL is losing due to Covid.”

He added that discussions will continue over the coming months to achieve a “long-term settlement”, which will include London being given “more control over key taxes so it can pay more costs of the transport network itself”.

Additional reporting by agencies

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