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Mayor Johnson

Tessa Jowell’s voodoo economics

Paul Waugh and the Evening Standard should know better than this. In the article Tessa Jowell Minister for London said: “Boris Johnson has been caught out admitting that his bus policy would cost £100 million more than he originally told us. For Londoners, that means an extra £2 a week on a weekly bus pass.”

This is voodoo economics. It confuses current spending with capital spending. But worse than that it shows why so many Labour politicians, including senior ministers, aren’t fit to run a piss up in a brewery.

On the current account TfL lost £617 million on the buses alone in 2006/7. In 2006/7 every bus journey cost TfL 87p but they only managed to collect 55p. Doh! Their bus fare dodging bill is £46.7 million of which £8 million is down to the bendy buses that Boris is seeking to replace.

One of the Mayor’s own capital expenditure plans for the buses, announced last November, is to spend £10 million on just 10 experimental hydrogen powered buses.

It does not take much wit to work out how you replace one capital asset, the bendy buses, which will have a finite life in any case, with another, newer one, the new Routemaster, and to fund this from the savings you will make by having bus conductors to clamp down on the fare dodging. We might not get £100 million of new buses in Boris’s first year but I don’t think anyone was planning for that.

The Boris campaign should just turn around and say we will buy new buses over time, they will be better than bendies, they will be paid for at least in part by reducing fare dodging, what’s the problem? The Livingstone campaign claims to be serious but this is just fatuous nonsense.