Mayor Johnson

Lords of Transport

For the last couple of years I have tracked the number of people employed by Transport for London (TfL) who earn £50K or more. In an idle moment yesterday I came across TfL’s draft Annual Report and Accounts, more on this later. You need to scroll down to page 35 of the report to see the table of employees’ remuneration.

This year has seen the total who earn more than £50K leap from 1,411 to 1,954, a jump 543 people or 38%. To be fair some part of this jump must be down to TfL’s takeover of Metronet. It is still pretty eye-watering that TfL employ the best part of 2,000 who earn over £50K.

The upper echelon of £100K plus earners has increased at a good rate too but not at the rate of the £50K plus group. Maybe Metronet didn’t have that many high flyers. Either that or TfL binned them. Last year’s number of 112 has jumped 10% to 123. With 123 bloody geniuses working for them you might think they could stop the bus strikes.

If you go back to 2002 TfL (Corporation) employed 59 people who earned over £50K. Today the comparable number is 611, or 10 times bigger. Has this recent explosion of high earners delivered the kind of service we all want?

9 replies on “Lords of Transport”

Bus travel has been utterly transformed since then> It was always far too unreliable and you had to wait too long. Now it’s a million times better, and worth every penny that’s been spent.

Tube not so much, but then I don’t think anyone ever expected you couid turn it round in just a few years, that’ll take more time.

Bus travel is certainly better than it was – but I very much doubt that it is ‘worth every penny that has been spent’. An annual subsidy of well over half a billion pounds seems a high price to have paid – some of that money could be either spent to better effect or even returned to Londoners.


The annual report says London bus subsidies went up 7% from £617 million to £659 million. Geoff may appreciate the improved service but he needs to remember that the subsidy is huge, for comparison we could run six district general hospitals like Ealing for this kind of money. Another comparison is that you could run the Olympics for the price of 14 years of bus subsidy.

One of the best things to happen to bus travel in recent years was the introduction of the ‘spider maps’ at every stop. When you can see at a glance where the buses are going, you are a lot more likely to consider using them. I have often argued that clearer information and better customer service would go a long way to improving the way people use public transport, without necessarily costing the earth.

“Another comparison is that you could run the Olympics for the price of 14 years of bus subsidy…”

So you can (help to) run a good bus network for 14 years x 52 weeks, or for the same money have 14 days of the Olympics?

Give me the bus network every time. I’m sure quite a few other Londoners would make the same choice… after all, we use the buses (almost) every day.

Q: How often does Phil use a London bus? [BTW, I got on one at 5.17am this morning. It was clean, on-time, and relatively full too…]


I use a bus about once a month. Maybe the 207 to the hospital or the 65 to Kew or Richmond. I am lucky that most of my work is in walking distance, mostly to the spare room that serves as my office.

It is worth noting that total bus expenditure by TfL last year was £1,739 million or 80p per journey. Fares collected were £1,080 million or 50p per journey. TfL only needs to collect the Oyster 90p fare from every passenger it claims to carry to make a profit. Instead it only collects 50p on average and so loses £659 million a year.

You might say that TfL gives concessions to young people – yes but these are only about 1/10th of the deficit. The Freedom Pass for the over 60s and disabled is paid for by the boroughs – £211 million.

Department for Transport figures show that London’s bus costs in 2005/6 were £2.38 per vehicle kilometre whereas the average outside London was £1.05.

If TfL is not exaggerating its passenger numbers it should be straightforward to make substantial surpluses. Either collect more fares or cut costs towards the out of London average. Maybe do both!

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