Transport for London has been given a five-day extension to its funding package in the latest round of a battle between Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan and the Conservative government over financing the capital’s commuter operator.
Khan warned last week that TfL could face bankruptcy “within days” unless it secured a long-term deal to on its financial future. The transport body, which operates bus, tube and rail services across London, has seen passenger numbers plummet during the Covid pandemic.
Monday’s deal is the latest in a series of short-term extensions as the transport body tries to secure a long-term deal.
“Working together, we must achieve a longer-term capital funding settlement of at least three years that ensures London’s transport network can remain reliable and efficient, can support the jobs and new homes that rely upon it and can support the economic recovery of the capital and the country as a whole,” TfL said.
“We hope these discussions can be concluded successfully soon.”
Khan was reportedly locked in negotiations through most of Saturday to secure a new deal.
Boris Johnson’s Conservative government has been accused of running a two-tier support system for public transport, ensuring the viability of the privatised rail operators, while attaching stringent conditions to last-minute short-term funding deals with TfL.
Those deals have had a number of unpopular conditions attached, such as an increase to the Congestion Charge and an extension of its hours.
The Department for Transport abolished railway franchising and struck ‘Emergency Recovery Measures Agreements’ with private operators on National Rail, whereby the DfT collects all fare revenue and pays guaranteed amounts to the operators, regardless of patronage.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps has said the deals were on the condition that TfL was working towards “financial sustainability”, despite the fact the body was self-sufficient and received no state funding prior to the pandemic-induced collapse in patronage.