The Government is making a mockery of politics and Londoners and it’s simply not right or fair (Picture: Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
There are just three days left to convince the Government to properly fund Transport for London (TfL).
Time is running out and I am clear that the Conservatives must give TfL the funding deal it urgently needs to keep London services running.
The situation is stark. The coronavirus pandemic meant that, understandably, less people used TfL services over the past year, which resulted in a funding shortfall. TfL incredibly lost 95 per cent of its fares income at the outset of the pandemic.
Despite Londoners doing the right thing, by working from home to protect the NHS, the Government is now refusing to acknowledge this sacrifice and give TfL the funding it needs. Instead, the Government wants to punish Londoners.
This funding crisis means bus services face being reduced by almost a fifth, as well as 10% of tube services. And as Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has said an entire Tube line could close if central Government does not provide the necessary funding.
This is shocking. The Government is making a mockery of politics and Londoners and it’s simply not right or fair.
The Mayor has said that there is no UK recovery from the pandemic without a London recovery, and he is right. This is far from a London-only issue.
The Government’s refusal to provide the funding needed directly could put at risk 43,000 jobs outside London. So, it’s time the Tories recognised and acknowledged the vital role that Transport for London plays not just to the economic recovery and prosperity of London, but across the UK too.
It is quite clear to me that the Conservative Party are no friends of London. It is also becoming more and more evident that Boris Johnson doesn’t care about much besides winning, and if that means TfL’s funding is cut so that we lose bus services, lose more options of safe travel, or if the Bakerloo line, which goes through my constituency in Brent is closed down, then it’s all part of the Tories’ plan.
If that results in Londoners being so upset that they blame the Labour Mayor of London and not the Government then so be it. ‘Job done’ Johnson will say. But I say absolutely no way should we allow the Tories led by the liar Boris Johnson to get away with it.
Millions of people, not just Londoners, rely on London’s transport system. And if we are going to reach the important goal of reaching the UK’s net-zero target by 2050, we need an efficient green transport system to flourish. That means investment, not forcing a decline.
Tube passenger numbers are at 65% of normal use, buses about 75% – partly due to commuters not returning to a five-day office week. The Government should find ways to support this new way of working while also supporting the transport network and the environment.
When you take our neighbours, Paris, they only need to raise less than 50% from fares for their rail infrastructure, whereas here, TfL must raise 72% of its income from fares. It’s just unfair.
We have just three days left to send a strong message to the Government that we refuse the managed decline of transport services. As the General Secretary of the TSSA, Manuel Cortes, said, we must say quite clearly that the Government must step up before services grind to a halt.
I was recently elected as Chair of London’s Labour MPs, and I can tell you that they are livid at the Government’s attitude. The Tories often speak about levelling up, but the only thing they are doing by refusing to give TfL the funding it needs is levelling down London and the country.
Readers can help us to send a strong message to the Government by asking your local MP to sign my motion calling for secure, long-term funding.
I hope that by the time this article is published it’s not too late – but the lesson we must all learn is that Boris Johnson and his Tory Government are no friends of London and we will never forget what they have done to our transport network.