First it was tube ticket offices under Boris Johnson to close, and today news emerges that the same could happen under London Overground ticket offices under current Mayor Sadiq Khan.
On the tube, ticket office closures were announced in 2013 with 938 job losses. This was due to budget cuts of around £70 million per year introduced back then.
Cuts now are of a whole different magnitude. George Osborne cut £700 million a year from TfL’s budget in the 2015 budget making London the only major world city with no operating support from central Government.
Couple that with Crossrail’s recently announced delay and TfL are in big trouble. Passenger number growth has not grown as quickly as forecast to make up the shortfall (though most forms of transport have been ok the first third of this year – but buses lag way behind).
Hence the recent bus cuts and now this news. And much more is likely.
TfL insists stations will still have staff – as planned for the tube after office closures there, yet barriers have been open on more occasions on the tube in recent years and ticketless travel and fare evasion are likely to have increased.
The option was included in documents when the concession was awarded – though this will still surprise many.
Spending on roads is also being cut, as Vehicle Excise Duty raised from vehicles in London is going to central Government and then NOT being returned to TfL for road upkeep. Even the Tories at City Hall seemed annoyed at that. Well some – before reverting to type and supporting Grayling. Going quiet on Grayling’s actions seems a common theme – not exactly a vote winner.
It appears the Tories in Westminster, and many at City Hall, are willing to let London suffer to cripple TfL and the Mayor. Attempts for greater devolution to raise funds locally are also being blocked by Chris Grayling. As London is the engine room of the economy, such a strategy could well hit the nations economy hard, and seen as putting party over country.