Ex-Mayor Livingstone Mayor Johnson

Livingstone’s great big bus fare lie

A major plank of Livingstone’s election platform is that “A single bus fare is now up 50%”, see page 19 of London Elects “The Candidates” publication.

The recent history of TfL fares is provided by the Londonist blog. The bus fare that Livingstone is referring to is the Oyster PAYG (peak) tabulated below.

It was £1 for three years until Livingstone lowered to 90p it in the run up to the 2008 London election. This was not enough to get him re-elected but it does provide a basis for Livingstone’s statistical nonsense. When Livingstone was in power he raised bus fares by 43% from 70p to £1. His later 10p cut was totally unaffordable. At the time he made this decision the subsidy for bus journeys was already 33p per journey.

Of course Boris Johnson had to raise bus fares when he came into power. You can guarantee that Livingstone would have done too (he had previous after all). It would be much fairer to claim that Johnson raised fares from £1 to £1.35 or 35%. Not only was Livingstone’s rise bigger than Johnson’s it was earlier. Livingstone is relying on you having a short memory. Don’t buy it.

2 replies on “Livingstone’s great big bus fare lie”

Why does running buses cost Tfl so much? It can’t be a lack of customers as most days people are falling over each other trying to get on.



The numbers are quite surprising. The last TfL annual report for the year ending 31st March 2011 showed bus fare revenue of £1,257 million and costs of £1,848 million a net subsidy of £591 million for the buses alone. You can run 5 Ealing hospitals for this kind of money.

In the same year there were 2.3 billion bus journeys in London. This means that TfL collected 55p per bus journey but each journey cost 81p. The subsidy per journey was 26p (the lowest it has been since 2003). For most of this period (calendar 2010) cash bus fares were £2 and Oyster £1.20.

People who pay are paying for those that don’t as well as themselves – the police, TfL employees and their spouses, people on income support and children and young people. In addition local councils pay for older people on their Freedom Passes (but not as much as £1.20 per journey).


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