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Communications disease Ex-Mayor Livingstone

“Free” Oyster cards cost us £11 each

OystercardDo you remember that back in April the Mayor promised to give away 100,000 free Oyster cards to the first 100,000 people to apply, waiving the usual £3 fee that most of the rest of us have already paid?

See his press release. By 1st May the Mayor had reported rapid progress with this campaign, having given 57,000 cards away. See his second press release.

You could charitably argue the Mayor was trying to help the poorest in society deal with the swingeing increases in cash fares that came into force at the start of the year (£2 for buses and £4 for tubes). You might think that this operation had cost £300,000 in 100,000 lost £3 deposits for the cards. You would be wrong.

This exercise was in fact one designed to promote the Mayor in the run up to the elections next year. It was therefore supported by a torrent of advertising.

In doing some research today I came across the cost of the ad campaign to support this exercise – £792,966 (see answer to question raised by LibDem AM Sally Hamwee).

So these “free” Oyster cards cost us £10.93 each not £3! Just so you know.

By the way note that the Mayor can’t help hiding £5K of funding for left wing newspapers The Tribune and the Morning Star in this budget. The idea that these are effective tools for communicating to Londoners is laughable. Still, if you are spending £793K bigging yourself up what is £5K?

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