The author is mayor of London and a former minister within the final Labour authorities
I help the drive by ministers to “stage up” the UK, however that ought to not imply dragging our capital metropolis down, which is the danger the federal government is taking with London’s transport system.
Transport for London (TfL) is struggling an unprecedented monetary disaster attributable to the pandemic, an issue London can’t clear up alone. Regardless of repeated warnings from enterprise teams, TfL and metropolis corridor, ministers are refusing to offer sufficient funding to keep up very important transport providers. Not solely will this have a devastating impact on passengers, it is going to jeopardise the nationwide financial restoration.
We have now sought to work constructively with the federal government, attempting to barter a long-term settlement for TfL. We hoped for added funding within the Treasury’s latest spending overview, however nothing materialised. With time working out earlier than TfL’s short-term emergency funding deal involves an finish on December 11, it’s my obligation as London Mayor to sound the alarm.
Ministers say they need different areas to have “London-style” transport providers — however their failure to offer sufficient funding means it received’t be lengthy earlier than the capital itself not has “London-style” transport providers. As an alternative, TfL may develop into a byword for managed decline.
That is no exaggeration. TfL has already made huge effectivity financial savings, slicing annual working prices by £1bn over the previous 5 years. If the federal government continues to starve its funding, there must be important service cuts. At a time when ministers need employees to return to their workplaces, bus providers must be decreased by 18 per cent and London Underground providers can be lower by 9 per cent, with a fall in reliability as a result of ageing practice fleets, a few of which date again to the Nineteen Seventies. This might inevitably power automobile house owners again into their automobiles extra usually, with unfavorable penalties for congestion, security and the atmosphere. Crumbling transport infrastructure will imply extra highway and tunnel closures, resulting in higher disruption and gridlock.
To be clear: TfL is just not requesting new additions to the community. Schemes like Crossrail 2 and the Bakerloo Line extension, although worthwhile, are actually fully out of attain. The danger confronting us is far starker — that the tens of millions of Londoners who depend on TfL will expertise fewer, much less frequent and extra dilapidated providers. The town’s residents shouldn’t be penalised for the impact of the pandemic in lowering TfL revenues. This might additionally battle with Downing Avenue’s aims of levelling-up, tackling local weather change and stimulating tourism and financial development to help the UK restoration.
I’m a giant advocate of higher transport funding and levelling up in areas of our nation which have been uncared for for much too lengthy. However clipping the wings of London and its surrounding southern areas is just not the reply in order for you different cities and areas to soar. There will be no nationwide financial restoration with no London restoration, and there will be no London restoration with no properly-funded public transport community. London contributes almost £40bn internet to the Treasury annually and for each £1 invested on the London Underground, 55p is paid to workforces positioned outdoors London, with TfL contracts contributing round £7bn to the UK financial system. This provide chain is at present supporting 43,000 jobs across the nation — in Falkirk, Ballymena, Bolton, Derby, Liverpool, Yorkshire and past — jobs which might be in danger until the federal government adjustments its anti-London stance.
With simply over three weeks to go till the present short-term deal ends, it’s time to cease short-term political pondering. The way forward for TfL and our capital is just too vital. Slightly than threatening the restoration, ministers should begin working in good religion to guard London’s transport community for the sake of the capital and the entire nation.