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London Mayor warns of cuts to Tube and buses unless long-term funding deal is reached
23 June 2022, 18:07 | Updated: 23 June 2022, 18:50
Sadiq Khan has accused the government of refusing to provide a ‘fair’ funding deal for Transport for London and said services could have to be placed in a state of ‘managed decline’.
The Mayor of London warned Tube services could need to be cut by as much as 10 per cent or “the equivalent of one Tube line.”
He said a million fewer journeys a day will be made on public transport unless TfL can secure a long-term funding deal.
He wants the government to do more to secure TfL's coffers long term after emergency funding for Transport for London (TfL) was extended for four months back in February.
The Government has granted TfL an 11th hour extension on its current funding deal - believed to be for three weeks - to keep services running until a fifth bailout can be agreed, according to the London Evening Standard.
The Government has already provided almost £5bn on bailouts since the start of the pandemic.
In a speech today at West Ham bus garage, the Mayor warned of large-scale cuts to Tube and bus services.
“[Managed decline] means one in five bus services axed and permanent road and tunnel closures as we run out of money to maintain London’s key infrastructure," Mr Khan said.
He denied he was ‘sabre rattling’ or ‘fear mongering’ in the speech today.
“Londoners are already starting to see for themselves the consequences of the government’s approach,” he said.
He said TfL has also been forced to consult on cutting four per cent of London’s bus network.
He warned bus routes in London could be slashed by as much as 18 per cent with the loss of as many as 100 routes.
“Cuts on this scale have never been seen in London before,” he said.
“It would result in up to a million fewer journeys being made every day.”
“If the government continues down this road it would not only have a devastating impact on Londoners, but it would put the national economic recovery at risk.”
“Withholding funding from TfL.. would jeopardise jobs and growth across the UK.”
He also warned of gridlock on the roads and soaring levels of toxic air if TfL had to kept cutting services.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “This is just another misleading claim from the Mayor as he continues to bury his head in the sand and avoid taking responsibility for his own actions.
“After committing to explore a long-term settlement in February, TfL and the Mayor agreed to provide information that would sufficiently demonstrate that conditions outlined in the current settlement are on track. Despite the Mayor repeatedly calling on the Government to deliver a long-term deal he has once again failed to fulfil his side of the bargain and provide the vital evidence required to progress talks. Thereby preventing a deal which would not only represent value for money for all taxpayers but deliver for London at this crucial time.
“Department for Transport officials have met TfL on a regular basis to try and agree this deal and the Mayor is well aware of this – to suggest anything else is simply not true and an attempt to deflect from his inability to responsibly manage the capital’s transport finances, despite receiving almost £5bn of Government bailouts.”
Back in May Mr Khan said negotiations over the new deal were going ‘very slowly’
His comments come after business and property groups sent open letters to the Chancellor and Grant Shapps calling for them to secure TfL’s long-term funding. “Our members have witnessed a precipitous fall in the government’s support for TfL with increasing concern,” they wrote.
A funding package secured between TfL and the Department for Transport to prop up transport services which were hit with huge revenue losses during the pandemic expires tomorrow.
The government said the settlement announced in February includes conditions to put TfL on track to financial sustainability by 2023, and includes the potential for a longer term capital settlement “dependent on the mayor and TfL’s co-operation”.
Sadiq Khan described the deal as a "relief" but characterised it as a short-term bandaid that would not save services from further cuts.
Earlier this month it was announced that sixteen London bus routes were facing the threat of being axed in TfL's biggest network cut in decades.