WATCH: Government must support TfL now or risk “virus spreading”, says Khan

Andrew Kersley

Sadiq Khan has called on the government to offer more support for Transport for London and said that “if we reduce services it will lead to greater overcrowding which will lead to the virus spreading more”.

In a Sky News interview this morning, the London mayor suggested that public transport was a necessary public service and that it was in need of “life support” from the government to continue running.

On cutting back services to reduce TfL’s costs, Khan said: “We’re providing 100% services in London for a very good reason: we need to provide all the services for people to use the tube, buses and the overground and still socially distance.

“If we reduce services, it will lead to greater overcrowding, which will lead to the virus spreading more. What we’ve seen in London is a 35% reduction in people’s use of the tube on this time last year and a 55% reduction in people’s use of buses on this time last year.”

On a support package, Khan said: “Because we’ve had a 90% loss in our incomes, we’ve asked the government to support TfL because it’s a public service. If they don’t support us our ability to provide public transport is reduced because we haven’t got the fares coming in.

“We rely on fares to provide our services. In the short to medium term, we will not get 100% of the passengers from before Covid back.

“The choice, whether its TfL or its businesses in the culture, retail, hospitality or leisure sectors, is to give support now – think of it as life support – or let them die, which means paying more later on for unemployment benefit and for insolvency.”

He added: “During the course of a normal period, London contributes hugely to the country’s wealth and prosperity.

“I’m all for that by the way, I believe in the nation-state and that those with the broadest shoulders should carry the heaviest burden.

“But in difficult times it’s not unreasonable for TfL and business in London to expect some support from the government, which will make the ability of our country to recover far quicker.”

It has been previously reported that London’s transport body is expected to lose £4bn this year as a result of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, as the number of commuters has plummeted. TfL has called for £2bn in support.

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