Ken Livingstone promises to bring back something that never went away

Ken Livingstone yesterday announced that he would bring back the zone 2-6 Travelcard. “Thousands of outer London commuters were stunned to find the zone 2-6 Travelcard was abolished by the Conservative Mayor earlier this year,” stormed Ken in his press release. This meant that “passengers who wanted to use a Travelcard were forced to buy a Zone 1-6 Travelcard… paying £128 a month more.”

There’s only one problem with this ringing pledge, but it’s a biggie: the zone 2-6 Travelcard has not been abolished. There is no need to bring it back because it still exists. There it is, Ken, look, on the TfL website – did you really not check? Or did you just not care?

“Thousands of commuters” have not been “stunned” or “forced to buy a zone 1-6 Travelcard…paying £128 a month more.” They have actually found themselves paying – ahem – £7.60 a month more. Last year the monthly Zones 2-6 card cost £124.50. This year it went up to £132.10. Ken’s claimed increase is only £4 less than the card’s entire price!

I think Ken must mean the zones 2-6 one-day Travelcard, which (as first revealed by me) has indeed been abolished, hitting the people who used to buy it with rises of up to 74 per cent, from £8.60 to £15, if they travelled in the peak. This certainly was bad news if you are one of the handful of people who bought one to travel occasionally from zones 2 to 6 in the peak. But no regular traveller would be affected by this. And, alas, the vital qualifying words “one day” never appear in front of the word “Travelcard” in Ken’s press release, deliberately misleading people about the true position.

Ken’s claim of a £128 a month rise for commuters is based on something that I don’t imagine a single person, let alone “thousands,” has ever done – queue up each morning to buy twenty £15 day tickets, one each weekday for a month, rather than buy one monthly ticket.

It is the second time in a fortnight that Ken’s figures on fares have been exposed as fraudulent. Two weeks ago he promised that his fares policy would save the “average Londoner” £800 or the “average transport user” over £800 in the next four years. Neither of these claims is true. I note that in yesterday’s press release, he’d already scaled the claim back, saying that the “average commuter” will save £800. That’s not true either, by the way.

I suppose I should be flattered that on the One Day Travelcard Ken is proposing to fix a problem I spotted. But once again, his chronic lack of honesty (and message discipline) lets him down.

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