Ken Livingstone: those fares promises in full

You may be hearing a bit about Ken’s alleged plans to cut fares today. I thought I’d give you his previous promises on the subject, just to – shall we say – set things in context.


“I will freeze bus and tube fares in real terms for four years” – Ken Livingstone manifesto at May 2000 election

What actually happened

– In January 2004, the single bus fare outside central London was raised from 70p to £1, a rise of 43%.  Fares on the Tube rose by up to 25%. Inflation was 2.6% at the time. (Oyster pay as you go users could avoid these rises, but Oyster pay as you go was not introduced on buses until later in 2004.)

– The weekly bus pass for those travelling outside central London rose from £7.50 to £9.50, a rise of 26.6%. For those travelling in central London it rose by 11.7%, from £8.50 to £9.50. See pp210-14 of this PDF.

– Livingstone himself states in his recent memoirs (page 491): “I decided to increase the fares before the [2004] election.”



A rise in the congestion charge “won’t be necessary. It’s now quite clear that £5 was enough. I can’t conceive of any circumstances in the foreseeable future where we would want to change the charge, although perhaps ten years down the line it may be necessary” – Ken Livingstone, Daily Telegraph, 25 February 2003

What actually happened

Just over two years later, in July 2005, the congestion charge rose by 60% (from £5 to £8). Livingstone had made no mention of this in his 2004 election manifesto.



“I will hold any future fare increases to no more than the rate of inflation” – Ken Livingstone, 34th mayor’s report to London assembly, 2003, after announcing 2004 increase.

Livingstone also states this in his recent memoirs (page 491): “I decided to increase the fares before the [2004] election and then promise that they wouldn’t rise by more than inflation.”

What actually happened

– In January 2005, the single Oyster bus fare was raised from 70p to 80p (a rise of 14.3%). Inflation was 3.2 per cent at the time.

– In February of the same year, the fare was raised again for peak hour travellers from 80p to £1 (a further rise of 25%.) The peak rise had been planned to start from January, but was delayed by seven weeks because of technical glitches.

– In January 2007, the off-peak Oyster single bus fare was also raised from 80p to £1 – a 25% rise. Inflation was 4.2 per cent at the time.

– Just before the election, Livingstone reduced the fare from £1 to 90p. Even allowing for this, bus fares during Ken’s second term rose by about 11 per cent above inflation over the same period.

– TfL was condemned for misleading by the Advertising Standards Authority after claiming in publicity material that fares had been frozen.

– Livingstone himself admits in his recent memoirs (p497) that he “increase[d] the fares…this meant breaking my promise not to raise fares faster than inflation.”



“I see no need to raise fares above the rate of inflation and I guarantee to hold down fares to the rate of inflation in 2009 and 2010.” – Ken Livingstone, press conference, 30 October 2007.

“There should not be any reason why fares need to rise more than in line with inflation over the next four years.” – Ken Livingstone to London Assembly, 14 November 2007 (see p25 of this PDF.)

What actually happened

– On 24 October 2007, just six days before promising the opposite at his press conference, Livingstone had secretly approved plans to increase bus fares by two per cent above inflation, and Tube fares by one per cent above inflation, in both 2009 and 2010.

– In emails leaked to the Evening Standard, TfL’s director of finance, Steve Allen, stated: “TfL’s [fares plans], approved by the board and the Mayor, are materially different from the Mayor’s most recent statements and he will be asked awkward questions once that becomes clear.”

In the same emails Peter Hendy, the transport commissioner, admitted that Ken was telling “stories” on fares.


How would Ken finance his proposed new fares cut?


“A fares cut would be financed through the restoration of the western extension of the congestion charge…alongside the introduction of a higher £25 charge for the most polluting gas guzzlers.” – Livingstone, MayorWatch website, 2009

What actually happened

In spring 2011 Livingstone dropped plans to reinstate the western extension and stopped claiming that he would cut fares, merely promising “no increases above the rate of inflation.”



In autumn 2011 Livingstone once again started to promise that he would cut fares and now claims that he can finance it even without the western extension revenue, through a “surplus” in the operating revenues of Transport for London.

What actually happened

Even on Ken’s own figures TfL’s “surplus” appears to be diminishing, from a claimed £728 million last year to a claimed £206 million in the first six months of this year, implying a full-year figure of £412 million. TfL says the correct figure for the surplus is in fact £0.



Ken’s initial promise was for a 5% fares cut. At a rally on November 23 he said: “I wish it could be more. But unlike the Tories, we will not say anything we can’t deliver.”

What actually happened

Less than two weeks after saying this, Ken raised his claimed fares cut to 7%, an amount he had explicitly said he could not deliver.


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