Funding needed to give Transport for London a sustainable future

The time has certainly come for the government to stop playing silly games with Transport for London (TfL) funding and put it on a safe footing.

The last short-term financing agreement expires at the end of this month.

There is an urgent need for a decent deal that offers long-term security, without cuts and tariff increases.

TfL’s fate was turned upside down due to the Covid pandemic.

Suddenly, a transportation system that transported millions of people every day saw passenger numbers disappear practically overnight.

With the first reduction, more than 90 percent stopped using public transport.

People were told early on to avoid public transport for fear of catching Covid.

The virus took a terrible toll on bus drivers, with several dying. How quickly we seem to forget the sacrifices of those heroic people.

Today, the government appears to be using the legacy of Covid to settle old political scores with Labor mayor Sadiq Khan.

Until the pandemic, TFL went from strength to strength. Services were expanded, with rates frozen for four years.

The mayor’s transport policy, which aims to allow 80 percent of people to travel by bicycle, on foot or by public transport by 2041, is making good progress.

TFL has been the vehicle for financing many active travel projects in the capital. As a result, the bicycle network expanded. There has been a real modal shift in the way people move.

But the government saw its chance to take political revenge.

A struggling TfL is having ramifications across the country, with jobs across the UK depending on the network.

TfL has long represented Britain’s best in providing a sustainable transport network, from the Elizabeth Line to the active travel-oriented cycle networks.

All this despite receiving far less government funding than the transportation systems of most western capitals.

If the government is serious about leveling up, it needs to support TfL while also trying to get the rest of the country up to its standards.

The time has come for Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and former London Mayor Boris Johnson to step in and provide the long-term funding TfL needs.

Paul Donovan is a Redbridge Labor Councilor for Wanstead Village and blogger. See paulfdonovan.blogspot.com

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