Ex-Mayor Livingstone

Why is London’s public transport so broken?


Today ConservativeHome has published some in-depth analysis from me on Transport for London and its finances. The highlights are:

  • In five years Transport for London has consumed £12 billion in subsidy but £8 billion of this has been wasted supporting TfL’s bloated cost base.
  • TfL has a structural deficit of £1.6 billion per annum which it can’t seem to solve in spite of ramping up fares.
  • In three years highly paid managers have more than trebled at TfL from 450 in 2004 to 1,441 in 2007.
  • TfL loses 30p every time someone takes a bus.
  • TfL loses 55p every time someone takes a Tube.

Follow this link for the whole thing.

3 replies on “Why is London’s public transport so broken?”

This is a scandal of national proportions. And full marks to you for highlighting it. But how do we stop it? Contact the National Audit Office perhaps? Get it featured in Private Eye?

I’d like a new bus service which would run from Perivale to Brentford. It would relieve some pressure on the north/south transit through West Ealing. In an ideal, sensible world one would lobby for this with both Hounslow and Ealing Councils. But now one has to contemplate approaching one of the world’s great non-listeners about this – Transport for Livingstone.


Stopping it really is pretty easy. Vote for a Conservative Mayor in May.

It would not even take much pain to put it right. Just turn off the spending taps. As I have covered many times on this blog TfL is just totally dumb with money. Their salaries are too high, they waste money on advertising, they can’t control suppliers, the list goes on. Any half decent public sector finance guy could sort this with a bit of political support from a Mayor who didn’t use TfL as a milch cow to buy votes.

How much value are fare payers getting from the cash they have given the Mayor to promote himself during conference season? Ditto with the £1.5 million Londoner contribution? On and on and …

Is spending more and more on investment in public transport the only answer, or could we make better use of what we already have by changing the way we use it. One big factor in causing delays on the tube and on overland trains is increased ‘dwell time’ at stations to sequentially off load and then load on passengers during busy periods. This mitigates against any attempt to run more trains per hour as the extra trains would just be queuing up outside stations. Buses have separate entrance and exit doors to solve this problem – why not try this on tube and trains? Alternate doors could be signed as entrance and exit routes. It might mean removing some seats, or converting to flip-up seating to make more space in corridors, but people should soon adapt to and welcome the new system if only to avoid the crush at the doors we currently experience. Only by reducing dwell time could the next stage of having more trains per hour be considered.

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