Transport extended for an additional ten days for London government finance contract
TfL says “constructive talks” can be completed within the new timeframe
Transport for London’s current emergency funding agreement with the government will be extended for an additional ten days to May 28 to finalize talks on the next financial package.
The term of the deal, which was concluded at the end of October last year, has already been extended once and was originally supposed to expire at the end of March. While the negotiations continued, it was extended to May 18, shortly before that deadline. It is the second such “emergency funding package”. The first was deployed in May 2020.
Announcing the latest extension, a TfL spokesperson said: “We continue to discuss our funding needs with the government and hope that these talks can soon be successfully concluded to enable a strong and robust recovery from the pandemic.” “Constructive” and the spokesman expressed the hope that a solution can be found in the next ten days.
The news comes as TfL reports a continued spike in bus and London Underground usage as Covid restrictions have been eased. Peak morning demand for subways has reached around 37 percent of its normal pre-pandemic levels and bus demand has rebounded to 61 percent.
As of yesterday, 60 people have been allowed to board a bus at the same time – an increase from the previous limit of 30. The Waterloo & City line, an important connection for commuters who work in the Square Mile, is due to reopen on June 21 .
There are hopes in the town hall that with the election of mayor, the government will stop “playing politics” with TfL’s financial crisis, which was triggered by a collapse in fare income when people renounced public transport from day one last spring.
In October, Boris Johnson used a Prime Minister’s Question Time to falsely claim that TfL’s financial crisis was “solely the fault of the current Mayor of London” Sadiq Khan. In April, Johnson used a Covid briefing to falsely point out that Khan’s four-year freeze on TfL tariffs was the main reason behind the need for a bailout.
According to TfL, the freeze cost £ 640 million in the four years it was in effect, a number dwarfed by total fare revenue of around £ 20 billion over that period. TfL also says the financial efficiencies achieved during Khan’s tenure offset the lost fare revenue.
During the election campaign, the defeated conservative London mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey repeatedly lied that the TfL, a local authority, was “bankrupt” before the pandemic. At the time of the first rescue package, the Ministry of Transport commissioned an independent review of TfL’s financial position by the auditor KPMG, but it refused to publish it.
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