Mayor Sadiq Khan says TfL bailout 'not the deal he wanted' for Londoners

Mayor Sadiq Khan says government bailout package for London's transport network is not the deal he wanted. Credit: PA

Mayor Sadiq Khan has been forced to accept a government rescue package of £1.6 billion for London's transport network.

But he said it wasn't the deal he wanted for Londoners.

Public transport users in London will be hit by the fare increases and restrictions on free travel as a result of the Government's £1.6 billion bailout of Transport for London (TfL).

Mayor Sadiq Khan accused the Department for Transport (DfT) of "making ordinary Londoners pay the cost for doing the right thing on Covid-19."

The department said it included a series of caveats as part of the funding package "in order to safeguard services in the future".

Temporary measures consist of:-

1) Stopping free travel for children.

2) Only allowing people over 60 or with a disability to travel for free stopping free travel for children.

3) Only allowing people over 60 or with a disability to travel for free outside peak hours.

4) Fares on buses will be scrapped to help protect drivers from Covid-19.

5) The congestion charge for people driving into the centre of the city will resume.

Passengers wearing face masks on the Central Line Credit: PA

These changes will take place "as soon as practicable", the DfT said.

Sadiq Khan said the government's deal is just a "sticking plaster".

He said the income from fares alone will not cover the cost of running services at the moment.

Responding to to the Government's TFL funding package, Lib Dem candidate for Mayor of London, Siobhan Benita said although the bailout was essential it has come with "expensive conditions".

She said "TFL's finances were in a mess before this pandemic and that seems to have weakened the Mayor's hand in negotiations with the Government."

"It is the hardworking Londoners who are going to foot the bill," she added.

The department also announced that TfL will introduce above-inflation fare rises from next year. Fares will go up by RPI+1%..

Mr Khan has frozen single fares since he became mayor in May 2016.

The bailout consists of a £1.1 billion grant and a £505 million loan.

Mr Khan said it was "not the deal I wanted but it was the only deal the Government put on the table".

He went on: "I had no choice but to accept it to keep the Tubes and buses running.

The DfT said the agreement means TfL will increase service levels "as soon as possible to ensure people can follow social distancing guidelines while on the network".

Concerns have been raised about packed Tube trains and buses this week after the Prime Minister encouraged people in England to go to work if they cannot work from home.

A London Covid-19 Task Force - featuring representatives from the Government and TfL - has been established to oversee operational decisions during the pandemic.

Decline in passengers has caused a 90% fall in TFL's income. Credit: PA

The Government will immediately carry out a broad-ranging review of TfL's finances and structure, which will includes "the potential for efficiencies", the DfT revealed.

Two "special representatives" will join TfL's board on behalf of the Government "in order to ensure best value for money for the taxpayer".

A decline in passenger numbers of 95% on the London Underground and 85% on buses due to the coronavirus lockdown has caused a 90% fall in TfL's income.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said services must be increased to "support social distancing and ensure our capital keeps moving".