Fare Enough?

January 2, 2013 10:00 am

Today, fares on London Transport have increased above the level of inflation for the fifth time in a row under Boris Johnson. The cumulative effect of his Mayorality on transport prices has been a 55% increase in the price of a bus journey and a 52% increase for a zone 1-4 tube journey. In addition to some of the highest property prices in the world, London now is now head-and-shoulders above other capital cities when it comes to transport costs, with a day Travelcard costing a third more than an equivalent in Paris and three times more than an equivalent in Berlin.

The overwhelming picture for the majority of Londoners is a City slowly sliding out of view: working people are not only being priced out of living in the capital but are now being priced out of travelling there too. The backdrop to the Mayor’s fares explosion is a stagnation in earnings – median income for full time workers in London has grown by just 2% since the start of Johnson’s 1st term and almost 1 million Londoners are currently unemployed or underemployed doing part-time jobs. The more pennies pinched from us as we travel to and from work means we have even less money to enjoy a City where a cinema ticket costs upwards of a tenner and you’d be lucky to get much change from a fiver for a pint in a pub.

In response to this pressure on the cost of living the Mayor has barely lifted a finger. His unimaginative stab at a transport plan, published last month, was predicated on increasing fares above inflation for the next ten years. By the end of his second term, his fares escalator will ensure that bus fares will be edging towards £2 a journey and a 20 minute Tube journey from Finchley Central to Euston could cost as much as £5.

Will the increase in fares at least pay for a more modern, more efficient, less crowded transport system? The refurbishment of the London Underground network – parts of which will be 150 years old this year – is much-needed, but what about expansions that will prepare London for the estimated one million increase in its population over the next decade? Ken Livingstone developed the London Overground orbit and secured his legacy with Crossrail. By contrast, Boris has invested in vanity projects: million pound Routemaster buses and cable cars whose novelty (and viability) extinguished in its first 6 months of service. The pinnacle of his underground ambitions is a two station spur of the Northern Line that will connect Kennington to the new American Embassy in Battersea. Even his most visible legacy, the so-called ‘Boris Bikes’ is testament more to his PR machine than a vision for cycling (which continues to suffer from underinvestment, unnecessary dangers and, as a consequence, underutilisation).

A worthy transport strategy for London has to balance long-term improvements in infrastructure with short-term affordability while people feel squeezed. Under this Mayor, neither is taking place.  Meanwhile, our transport network is becoming more expensive, more crowded and even more unfit for a modern, growing, global city. On entering the most important years of his second term, Boris Johnson has yet to develop a vision for our capital.

David Lammy is the Member of Parliament for Tottenham

  • MonkeyBot5000

    That’s nothing compared to what we have to put up with in the rest of the country. I live about 50mins north of London by train. If I travel south to Kings Cross it costs about 50% more than if I travel the same distance north even though I’m using the same train company and the same stretch of track. If I want to go to town on the bus, I have to spend £3.70 to get a return ticket when it costs me less than a pound in petrol and £2 for 4 hours parking if I go by car.

    Once I get to London, the biggest problem I’ve found with the transport system isn’t the price of the tickets or the quality of the service – it’s that Londoners can be some of the rudest, most ignorant people you will ever come across. None of them seem to understand that when people are already crushed up against the doors of an arriving train, there’s no room for you to get on, unless you let someone else off first – this really isn’t rocket science. On top of that, you’ve got the spectacle of dozens of people trying to cram onto a tube train that’s clearly already full even though the signs are telling them that there will be another train on the same route arriving in 2 minutes.

    Above ground, it’s fine, but they seem to lose all capacity for rational thought the moment they go below street level.

  • MrSauce

    This argument all seems a bit sillly to someone who doesn’t live in London.
    Just move out of London. Get a different job and a better quality of life, and stop complaining.
    Northwards is probably best, or to the West.
    There isn’t a lot of room to the East or South.

  • Daniel Speight

    Maybe the question should be asked of those Labour members who helped get Boris Johnson elected, ‘Are you proud and happy with what you did?’

Latest

  • News Woolf and May should “meet survivors groups” over Brittan links, say Labour

    Woolf and May should “meet survivors groups” over Brittan links, say Labour

    Labour have spoken out about complaints that Fiona Woolf QC, head of the public inquiry into historical sex abuse, has links with Leon Brittan. Brittan was the home secretary at the time when the dossier about alleged pedophiles went missing. And Woolf, who is also Lord Mayor of London, admitted yesterday that since 2008 she had dinner with Brittan and his family on five separate occasions but she has said she has “no close association” with him. A number of Labour MPs […]

    Read more →
  • Comment PMQs review: Miliband lands punch on NHS as leaders go through the motions

    PMQs review: Miliband lands punch on NHS as leaders go through the motions

    Here we are again. Another week, another Wednesday, and another wrangle between Cameron and Miliband about the NHS. This is getting a bit old. Cameron attempted to get Miliband on the back foot – he kicked off PMQs by posing questions to the Labour leader about the Welsh NHS. Rather predictably, the rest of PMQs descended into the two party leaders arguing about who can be more trusted with the NHS. But, there was something a little more sinister about […]

    Read more →
  • Comment There is no such thing as a safe seat any more

    There is no such thing as a safe seat any more

    A couple of weeks ago saw the UK elect for the first time a UKIP MP – Douglas Carswell, with a huge majority of 12,000 votes. UKIP made enormous strides in the safe Labour seat of Heywood & Middleton as well, reducing the Labour majority from 5,971 to 617. This rise in the ‘acceptable’ far right should be a cause of concern not just to the Tories but also to us. It is clear from these results there is no […]

    Read more →
  • Comment We must tackle Ukip’s emotional appeal

    We must tackle Ukip’s emotional appeal

    The result in Heywood and Middleton may have shocked some people, but not all. Some warned this could happen after UKIP took or seriously challenged safe council seats in the north, topped the national vote at the Euros, and polled strongly in Labour areas. Their highest average share of the vote in the 2014 elections came in Labour areas like Rotherham, Mansfield and Hartlepool. We’re told if we campaign on the “issues” people will come back to Labour. This fails […]

    Read more →
  • Featured Young Labour voted against supporting the free education demo, but the debate on tuition fees has been reopened

    Young Labour voted against supporting the free education demo, but the debate on tuition fees has been reopened

    Last night Young Labour voted on whether or not to come out in support of the free education demonstration set to take place on the 19th November. Reports suggest, they voted against the motion. This result could easily be interpreted as another sign that the argument against tuition fees is dead in the water. In reality, it tells us that opposite is true. The very fact that this was a topic for discussion at Young Labour’s national committee, that there […]

    Read more →
7ads6x98y