This morning the Mayor wrote in response to my request for a clarification of bus subsidies. Although he is meant to reply within 20 working days, a figure he uses as a minimum rather than a maximum, the letter took almost 2 months to arrive, see below.
The letter shows that bus subsidies will rise £65 million or 14% next year to a staggering £528 million. This is a huge sum – fifth of the Met budget, the equivalent of running five general hospitals, bigger than the London Fire Brigade budget. In spite of above inflation fare rises, that will result in a projected rise in income of 5.5%, Transport for London’s costs are out of control and will rise by 8.2% next year. TfL are by reputation one of the most wasteful and inefficient parts of government but it is truly excruciating to have cash fare rises of 33% which target the poorest in society and still manage to draw down yet more subsidy.
The Mayor is particularly cynical with his handling of this information. The bus subsidy in not made clear in the TfL annual report. When you ask him to furnish the information, which is a necessary prerequisite for any sensible debate on the funding of public transport, it takes 2 days shy of 2 months to arrive. The final insult is that once he has gone to the trouble and expense of writing an answer on 2nd February he puts a second class stamp on the envelope to delay the answer for as long as possible.