Harriet Harman has written a piece in the Evening Standard attacking the “massive” fare rise that has come in today. There are a number of things to bear in mind when reading the piece, which I recommend you do.
Firstly relatively few people will actually receive a fare rise at all, the over 60s who use the freedom pass (valid 24 hours a day from 2nd Jan 2010), school children on free travel, those on job seekers allowance etc. who don’t have to pay bus fares. Those who have travel-cards will not face any rise at all either and now that many commuters can use Oyster cards on the surface rail they will actually see a fare reduction.
Secondly the desperate attempt to equate the fare rise to the scrapping of the Western Extension of the congestion charge zone and £25 a day tax on larger vehicles is comic. Harriet claims that these measure cast £50 million and £70 million respectively (see below). The drop in tube usage alone, caused by Brown’s recession, has cost TFL £700 million in lost ticket revenue and we inherited a £2.25 billion black hole from Livingstone. Even if these measures cost £120 million it would be a drop in the financial ocean.
Her claims about the revenue generated from Livingstone’s “green” measures show the truth about the Labour regime. If these policies were designed to stop larger vehicles and traffic from West London driving in Central London they would have been budgeted to generated nothing (or at least negligable sums of money), but in order to collect the kind of figures Harman talks about there would need an almost zero reduction in London traffic. Far from being green, these measures were just about squeezing more money out of London’s motorists.
As those who have read and commented on the piece have said, this is a massive own goal for Labour rather than an effective attack on Boris.
P.S. Funny how the Deputy Leader of the Labour party is attacking Boris like this, not Livingstone or Tessa Jowell (Minister for London) or Sadiq Khan (Transport Minister). Do we see some post election positioning for Labour’s candidate for Mayor of London?