Renewed questions about the impact of Ken’s claimed 7 per cent fares cut on TfL’s revenue were triggered by Labour’s shadow transport secretary, Maria Eagle, at the weekend when she endorsed most of the Coalition’s spending cuts on transport, including at TfL. The Tories were quick to pronounce that this made the Kenster’s big promise even more of an “unfunded sham” than they’d said already.
We’ve been over this ground before, haven’t we? TfL says Livingstone’s proposed fares cut will cost it £1.12 billion in revenue over the four years of a mayoral term – and more neutral sources than this blog, including Channel 4’s Fact Check, agree that Ken cannot make up that sum without cutting services or investment.
One new thing I just thought of, though, is the massive disconnect between these figures and what Ken is claiming his policy will save us. He has repeatedly said that his fares cut will “save the average Londoner £1000” over the four years. There are, conservatively, seven and a half million Londoners. If Ken is telling the truth about our average saving, that is a loss of revenue to TfL of 7.5 million times £1000. In other words, TfL would lose £7.5 billion, not £1.12 billion.
Losing £7.5 billion would, of course, pretty much shut down the transport system. It is more than ten years’ subsidy to the entire bus network, or almost half the cost of Crossrail. The alternative – I know you’ll be shocked to hear this – is that TfL’s estimate of its losses is correct, and Ken is lying about what Londoners will save.
Dividing £1.12 billion by 7.5 million people produces an average saving per Londoner over the four years of £149.30 – little more than a tenth of what Ken claims. The average saving per year will be £37.32 – 72p a week.
Not all that different, in other words, from the Boris Johnson cut in council tax (in this and future years) which Labour has been scoffing at – the only difference being that, with Ken, you get a cut in investment too.