Transport for London (TfL) has agreed a strings-attached £1.08bn funding package from central government, its third bailout since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic last year.
It has now received more than £4bn since March 2020 to maintain rail and bus services in the capital. The deal will provide funding until December 11 but TfL will now have to find £300m of savings, or new income sources this financial year and £500m in new or increased sources of revenue each year from 2023.
Recently re-elected London Mayor Sadiq Khan said the deal was “yet another sticking plaster”, adding that the government had wanted cuts equivalent to “cancelling one in five bus routes or closing a tube line”.
“It’s important to remember that TfL only needs emergency funding from the government because its income from fares dropped by up to 90% because Londoners followed the rules by staying at home and avoiding public transport during the lockdown.”
“TfL is also being forced to undertake some early development work on the business case for driverless trains. However, I’ve made it crystal clear to ministers that we will object to any future requirement to force TfL to implement driverless trains on the London Underground. It would cost billions of pounds and would be a gross misuse of taxpayers’ money at this critical time for our country.”
A £1.6bn bailout was agreed in May, followed by a £1.8bn deal in November, which was extended until the end of May.
London Transport Commissioner Andy Byford said the pandemic has shown TfL’s financial model, with a “disproportionate reliance on fare revenue” wasn’t “fit for purpose”.
“The conditions placed on us by the government agreement and the amount of funding we will receive means we need to find a further £900m of savings or new income this year compared to our approved budget and on top of the £730m of savings already assumed in our business plan,” he said.