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‘Zero engagement’ from Government on Transport for London funding crisis – mayor

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan speaks to the media at West Ham bus depot in east London (/PA)
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan speaks to the media at West Ham bus depot in east London (/PA)

The mayor of London has accused the Government of “zero engagement” over Transport for London’s (TfL) funding crisis, as a current settlement reaches expiration.

Sadiq Khan warned of cuts which have “never been seen in London before” just a day before the fourth funding settlement of the pandemic, which took Government support to £5 billion, reaches an end on Friday.

The mayor said that without a long-term funding plan Londoners would see a 10% reduction in Underground services, equivalent to an entire Tube line, and the loss of more than 100 bus routes.

However, the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said suggesting a lack of engagement was “misleading” and accused Mr Khan of trying to “deflect from his inability to responsibly manage the capital’s transport finances”.

Transport for London funding
Sadiq Khan warned of unprecedented cuts without a funding deal for TfL (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Speaking at a TfL bus garage in East Ham on Thursday, Mr Khan said: “For months now, I’ve been asking to start constructive negotiations with ministers so that we can agree to a fair and sustainable funding deal for TfL.

“We’ve had zero engagement from the Transport Secretary, and we’ve yet to see any proposals for a long-term funding deal.

“More short-term extensions with no promise of any additional long-term funding simply doesn’t cut it.

“It’s no way to treat Londoners and the transport network they rely upon – if the Government continues to refuse to provide a fair funding deal, TfL will be forced to put our transport network into managed decline.”

Mr Khan also warned of “gridlocked roads” and “toxic air pollution” as commuters moved over to cars as bus services were reduced.

He added his comments were not “sabre rattling or scaremongering” but if “the Government continues to starve TfL of funding” services would have to be reduced by 18%.

Mr Khan said: “So I call on the Prime Minister and the Transport Secretary to stop playing politics with an issue of such great national importance, to stop punishing transit workers and Londoners for doing the right thing during the pandemic, to stop wreaking havoc on our transport network, to stop levelling down London to try to gain political support elsewhere, and start working with me in good faith so that we can agree a fair, long-term funding deal that will protect London’s transport network for the sake of the capital and the whole country.”

The previous settlement included conditions to put TfL on track to financial sustainability by 2023 and the potential for a longer-term capital settlement “dependent on the mayor and TfL’s co-operation”.

Mr Shapps said: “After committing to explore a long-term settlement in February, TfL and the Mayor agreed to provide information that would sufficiently demonstrate that conditions outlined in the current settlement are on track.

“Despite the Mayor repeatedly calling on the Government to deliver a long-term deal he has once again failed to fulfil his side of the bargain and provide the vital evidence required to progress talks, thereby preventing a deal which would not only represent value for money for all taxpayers but deliver for London at this crucial time.

“Department for Transport officials have met TfL on a regular basis to try and agree this deal and the Mayor is well aware of this – to suggest anything else is simply not true and an attempt to deflect from his inability to responsibly manage the capital’s transport finances, despite receiving almost £5bn of Government bailouts.”