The comments made by Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, on 1 June 2021.
I have tried to build bridges with the Government as this is in the best interest of Londoners and our businesses, but I want to be honest with Londoners: this is not the deal we wanted, but we have fought hard to get it to the best place possible and to ensure we can continue to run vital transport services at this crucial time for our city.
After some extremely tough negotiations, we have successfully managed to see off the worst of the conditions the Government wanted to impose on London, which would not only have required huge cuts to transport services equivalent to cancelling 1 in 5 bus routes or closing a Tube line, but would have hampered London’s economic recovery as well as the national recovery.
The Government is still insisting that TfL look at options to raise a further £500m to £1bn of revenue per year by 2023. I have been clear to the Government that there are very few options to do this and forcing TfL to impose draconian additional measures on London would be unacceptable. So I will continue to work with the Government to identify an appropriate source of funding. But I am hopeful that as London bounces back from the pandemic, and income from fares continues to increase, we’ll be able to avoid introducing any unfair measures on Londoners, as the additional fares revenue may be able to meet Government demands.
It’s important to remember that TfL only needs emergency funding from the Government because its income from fares dropped by up to 90 per cent because Londoners followed the rules by staying at home and avoiding public transport during the lockdown. In my first four years as Mayor I reduced TfL’s deficit by 71 per cent and increased its cash balances by 13 per cent. TfL is a world class transport authority.
TfL is also being forced to undertake some early development work on the business case for driverless trains. However, I’ve made it crystal clear to Ministers that we will object to any future requirement to force TfL to implement driverless trains on the London Underground. It would cost billions of pounds and would be a gross misuse of taxpayers’ money at this critical time for our country.
This short-term settlement is yet another sticking plaster so I will seek to work with the Government over the months ahead to agree a longer-term funding deal for TfL that is both fair and right for Londoners and the whole country. I’ve repeatedly said that I want to build bridges with the Government and work constructively with Ministers in London’s interest – and the national interest – as we seek to recover from the pandemic. This remains the case, but I’ll always stand up for London and be honest with Londoners when the Government makes decisions that could negatively impact our city.