23 November 2011

Ken pledges to cut fares

Ken Livingstone, Labour's candidate for Mayor of London, has announced the next important part of his Fare Deal for London – a new zone 2-6 ZoneSaver card to replace the Travelcard abolished this January by Conservative Boris Johnson.

Thousands of outer London commuters were stunned to find the zone 2-6 Travelcard was abolished by the Conservative Mayor earlier this year, leading to a 74% fare hike for these customers on 3 January 3 2011.

Mr Livingstone made his announcement on a visit to the London Borough of Bexley, part of his ‘Tell Ken’ programme of day-long visits to all 32 London boroughs.

The ZoneSaver Travelcard will end the stealth tax fare rise imposed by the Conservative Mayor this January – introducing a new replacement zone 2-6 Travelcard as part of the emergency fares cut planned for autumn 2012 if Ken Livingstone is elected.

Boris Johnson abolished the Zones 2-6 Travelcard (which cost £8.60) meant that passengers who wanted to use a Travelcard were forced to buy a Zone 1-6 Travelcard (which cost £15) paying £128 a month more.

Pressed by London Assembly members about the Outer London stealth tax fare rise, Boris Johnson said the difference between prices was ‘very little.’

Fares have rocketed under Boris Johnson. The cost of a single bus fare has risen 56% (jumping from 90p to £1.40) and the cost of a popular weekly zone 1 – 4 Travelcard is up 23%, costing Londoners £416 a year more than in 2008.

Ken Livingstone said: “This is about righting a wrong and ending a disgraceful stealth tax on outer London that should never have been imposed by the Conservative Mayor. In tough times we need to use the levers available to the mayor to reduce the pressure on people who are really feeling the pinch – not a city administration that has become so remote it thinks nothing of a 74 per cent fare rise for many commuters in outer London.

“If I am elected I will cut the fares and introduce a 2- 6 travelcard, the ZoneSaver card, saving fare-payers in outer London hundreds of pounds a year. Boris Johnson abolished it in January 2011. I will reintroduce it by October next year. The choice could not be clearer.”

”This part of the new Fare Deal for London – to tear up the current plan of above-inflation annual fare rises, cut fares by 5% next October, freeze them for a year and from 2014 ensure they do not rise by more than inflation. It will mean the average commuter in London will be £800 off over the next four years – in stark contrast to the staggering fare hikes we have seen in the last three years.”

Val Shawcross Assembly Member of Lambeth and Southwark added: “It was telling that Boris Johnson regarded the financial impact of scrapping the 2-6 Travelcard as, ‘very little’ when thousands of commuters in outer London have been forced to pay hundreds of pounds a year."

”No wonder the Conservative Mayor is increasingly being seen as out of touch with the interest and concerns of ordinary Londoners. In tough times like these, Londoners can’t afford a mayor who is so out of touch that he is hitting Londoners with stealth taxes like a 74 per cent rise in some Londoners’ fares but thinks it’s okay to have a second job paying £250 000 a year – an amount he calls ‘chicken feed.’

“Outer London has been hit particularly hard by decisions made by Boris Johnson. Fares have risen steeply under his watch. Every single outer London borough has seen police numbers cut in the last year. Vital transport projects like the DLR extension to Dagenham and Croydon tram extension have been scrapped.”