London transport fares to rise

Commuters face price hike
Commuters face price hike

The Mayor of London has confirmed that transport fares are set to rise both on the Tube and buses.

Ken Livingstone claims that the fare rises are necessary to fund improvements in the transport network, but his political opponents have accused him of letting down Londoners.

From January 2005, there will be an inflation plus one per cent rise on the Tube, and inflation plus 10 per cent rise on bus fares. Fares on the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) will rise in line with those on the Tube.

There will be discounts available for those travelling off-peak, and free bus travel for all under 16s by September 2005 with this extended to all under 18s in full time education by September 2006.

Announcing the changes at City Hall this morning, Mr Livingstone said: "In real terms, bus passengers will still be paying the same average fares as when I was first elected. But they now receive a much better service and more and more school age children will travel free. Our investment in buses is paying off. Now we need to extend those improvements to the Tube and railways.

Defending the decision to raise fares, which comes on top of a Tube price rise last January, the Mayor said: "In my first term we carried through the transformation of London's bus services. In the second we will start the improvement of the Tube and the investment programmes necessary to give London a 21st century transport system.

"That requires making tough choices now to seize the once-in-a-generation opportunity we have been given to invest nearly £3 billion over the next five years. If we want to make that investment we will need to raise fares now to help meet the costs of servicing the additional debt.

"I have no doubt that is the decision which is in the best interests of London. We are embarking on a course which will reverse generations of neglect."

The decision was sharply criticised though by the Shadow Transport Secretary Tim Collins. He said: "Yet again Ken Livingstone has been disingenuous with Londoners. He promised during the recent election campaign that there would be no fare increases, but three months later he is going back on his word.

"Under Labour's Mayor, London has faced an unending barrage of higher charges. Council tax has increased to pay for his bureaucracy; the congestion charge is set to be extended despite massive local opposition and now fares will go up. Where will this cash grabbing exercise end?"