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Mayor Johnson

Mayor makes tough decision

Today’s announcement of fare increases across London’s transport systems is perhaps the first really hard decision our new mayor has had to make.

It is a job well done.

He has protected the vulnerable but faced the reality of financing Crossrail and dealing with the previous mayor’s use of the “Fares Fair” weapon.

Those on income support will get half price fares without being dependent on a South American dictator. Older people and the disabled will be able to use their Freedom Passes 24 hours a day.

At the end of October, in the run up to the election, the old mayor tried to kid us with his unaffordable and disingenuous freeze.

The old mayor used his £3 million a year Londoner not-so-freesheet three times to trumpet his 10p off bus fares swizz. None of the Mayor’s outpourings mention that two years ago off peak Oyster bus fares were 80p, they went up to £1 the next year and this year they are 90p. So the old off peak fares are 12.5% higher than they were even after this supposed cut. The old mayor’s own figures demonstrated that he was lying about the affordability of 10p fare cut.

It is straightforward to demonstrate Livingstone’s wishful thinking and dissimulation. In February last year Livingstone wrote to me to say that bus subsidies would be £463 million in 2006/7 and £528 million in 2007/8. The outcome, as reported in TfL’s Draft Annual Report and Accounts, was £617 million in 2006/7 and £659 million in 2007/8. That’s £285 million lost in just two years.

This is the headline story in today’s Evening Standard. The mayor has contributed a piece defending himself and the paper has come out in favour of the changes.