Transport for London trade unions are outraged that Grant Shapps, the Minister for Transport, says he will not give TFL the long-term funding it so manifestly needs as a public service underpinning the whole of London’s economy.
Shapps additionally demands a series of punitive conditions for the short-term inadequate sums he is currently doling out.
He is punishing the people of London by demanding TFL make ordinary people pay more for transport through extra council tax, by slashing its workers terms and conditions – the very workers who kept London running throughout the pandemic – by cutting fare concessions for children and pensioners and carrying out a huge fares increase greater than that he forced on TFL in May. He also wants the mayor to extend the Congestion Charging Zone all the way to the North and South Circulars.
How on earth he thinks these conditions will help in London’s recovery from the pandemic, the effects of Brexit, the climate emergency and the economic stagnation hanging over us since early 2019, it is impossible to imagine.
They manifestly will not. They will help push London into a recession which will see tens, if not hundreds of thousands of ordinary Londoners plunged into poverty.
In the most extraordinary statement yet, the Minister says if these conditions are not met he will take over the whole of TFL and run it from Whitehall.
One of the many questions to ask the Tory government, is why is TFL – a highly successful world-leading transport authority – being treated so differently to failing, private rail companies?
The Department for Transport is offering an 18 month blank cheque to the rail industry to give time for the crisis to pass, fare revenue to recover and a long term funding plan to be put in place. Why isn’t the same thing being offered to Transport for London???
Ordinary Londoners will find it utterly repugnant that their transport system and London’s recovery is being held to ransom by a government failing to meet the COVID-19 emergency, which is trashing TFL and trying to make a public service behave like a private company for purely party political motives.