Harriet’s attack says more about her and Livingstone than it does about Boris

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?

6 responses to “Harriet’s attack says more about her and Livingstone than it does about Boris

  1. James, there appears to be a logical flaw in this policy if it is supposed to fill a financial black hole and yet 'relatively few people will actually receive a fare rise at all'. How can it be plugging this hole if only a few will pay more?

    I'm speaking as one who will pay nearly 20% more as I travel by bus and DLR using my Oyster PAYG card. If there are lots of people like me then it will raise oodles of extra money. But people like me are part time workers and students who can least afford it.

  2. James, there appears to be a logical flaw in this policy if it is supposed to fill a financial black hole and yet 'relatively few people will actually receive a fare rise at all'. How can it be plugging this hole if only a few will pay more?

    I'm speaking as one who will pay nearly 20% more as I travel by bus and DLR using my Oyster PAYG card. If there are lots of people like me then it will raise oodles of extra money. But people like me are part time workers and students who can least afford it.

  3. Jo,

    The 20% fare rise looks big in % terms because it affects a relatively small number of people. The big savings come from project postponements, cutting of consultants and efficiency savings.

    The fares package is part (but not all of) the solution.

  4. Jo,

    The 20% fare rise looks big in % terms because it affects a relatively small number of people. The big savings come from project postponements, cutting of consultants and efficiency savings.

    The fares package is part (but not all of) the solution.

  5. James, I'm definitely not a happy bunny here. I have looked up the cost of an off peak return journey from Catford Bridge to Charing Cross. The price of the return trip has increased from £3.60 (2009 paper ticket) to £4.00 (Oyster PAYG). Another massive rise. It appears from the information I can find that paper Cheap Day Return tickets have disappeared from National Rail routes covered by Oyster. Not only that but if one half leg of my journey is classed as 'peak', which appears to include travelling into London for the evening, the fare for that leg will be £2.60. So the cost of my occasional trip into central London for an evening from Catford increases from £3.60 to £4.60 if I use Oyster (a 27% price rise) and a whopping £5.30 for someone who doesn't have an Oyster card (thats a 47% price rise, assuming there are no paper Cheap Day Returns). That is just obscene. I am not deliberately looking for bad examples of the impact of the fare changes, just looking at the journeys I make most frequently.

    I know this area of South East London didn't vote for Boris, but did he really have to stitch us up so badly with these huge % fare increases?

  6. James, I'm definitely not a happy bunny here. I have looked up the cost of an off peak return journey from Catford Bridge to Charing Cross. The price of the return trip has increased from £3.60 (2009 paper ticket) to £4.00 (Oyster PAYG). Another massive rise. It appears from the information I can find that paper Cheap Day Return tickets have disappeared from National Rail routes covered by Oyster. Not only that but if one half leg of my journey is classed as 'peak', which appears to include travelling into London for the evening, the fare for that leg will be £2.60. So the cost of my occasional trip into central London for an evening from Catford increases from £3.60 to £4.60 if I use Oyster (a 27% price rise) and a whopping £5.30 for someone who doesn't have an Oyster card (thats a 47% price rise, assuming there are no paper Cheap Day Returns). That is just obscene. I am not deliberately looking for bad examples of the impact of the fare changes, just looking at the journeys I make most frequently.

    I know this area of South East London didn't vote for Boris, but did he really have to stitch us up so badly with these huge % fare increases?

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