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Disabled people retain free public transport in London after uproar

Disabled people using a Freedom Pass in London will now retain free travel on public transport after uproar when the terms of a bailout where revealed.

There is however no word on children’s travel (currently said to temporary) and those over 60s who will lose peak time free travel.

Sadiq Khan stated these new rules were imposed by central Government and crucially has called on the Government to make the agreement fully public. So far they have not done so. He stated: “I am very happy for the Government to fully publish the full funding deal”. So far that has not happened.

Disabled people will now retain free public transport

While many have criticised Khan and TfL in recent days it appears to me pretty clear Government are calling the shots. When it comes to a bail out those lending the money hold the cards.

And there’s no city on earth that doesn’t need a bailout. No city can withstand a 90 per cent fall in revenue so suddenly while being obliged to provide services at a certain level. You can criticise plenty of TfL’s actions and spending recently but it’s a fraction of current losses. TfL could be run perfectly and it would never be enough to see them through what is now happening. We are talking £3.2 billion.

DLR serving huge growth in Stratford. Previous expansion plans axed

For example, even if you opposed the fare freeze which proponents say encouraged public transport usage to hold up and limit congestion as London’s population was rising by 100,000 a year, that totals at worst £650 million over four years.

That sum is overshadowed by Central Government cutting annual funding by £700 million a year to TfL in 2015. They then compounded that action by ensuring revenue from London drivers received by central government via Vehicle Excise Duty was prevented from being spent in London and instead allocated elsewhere across the country on roads.

London Overground

And while the Government continues to talk of “levelling up” the rest of the country when it comes to public transport, what their actions have demonstrated is an apparent willingness in dragging London down towards poor standards seen in other cities rather than lift those cities to London standards.

Good services across cities in England doesn’t seem to me to be the real aim here. If it was, cities like Manchester wouldn’t be begging for minimal upgrades as trains face a 10 per cent cut. Upgrade plans for stations announced over six years ago by George Osborne have not progressed.

Sadly the standards seen in many European nations are not coming to England anytime soon. A country like Spain with excellent metros in Barcelona and Madrid (not to mention good systems beyond that across the nation) are a pipe dream. Cologne and Berlin in Germany? It’d be either/or here.

Meanwhile the north v south squabbles continue and in London some seem hoodwinked into exactly the government’s trap of withdrawing funding, pushing through cuts then letting local politicians take the flack. Same old, same old.

If anyone thinks central government will do a better job than TfL (flaws and all) then spend a year living in any other English city. You’ll see how abysmal many are for public transport users. And if London is heading down that road then the city’s position as a financial hub is not looking good.

13 Comments

  1. Khan waived through projects like Canada Water Masterplan which force tax payers to pay for the promotion of the flats of the partnership BL PLC / Southwark Council to the tune of up to £35 million to build a mediocre leisure centre. Refurbishing the old one with the only deep water pool in the borough would cost only £8 million saving £27 million (doesen’t include cost of demolition and greenhouse gasses generated). This “fish bowl” to sell flats is it going to be designed for a Post Corona-Virus world even?.
    Refurbishing Aylesbury Estate would have cost £150 million, preserving ALL the social housing and no greenhouse gasses, that is the price the borough is paying for the demolition only!
    London doesn’t need bail outs London needs better management and for Labour Sadiq Khan and Labour Peter John to stop throwing away our money!
    Lots of details here about Canada Water:
    Facebook: @Canadawater000

    • Charles Calthrop

      While there are equally objectionable developments across the city (Charlton immediately springs to mind) the focus should not be on a particular estate but around the damage being done to London’s public transport network by the Government.

      TFL came within hours of running out of money last week. Khan’s faults aside, he’s not driven London into the ground by choice. Indeed, as part of the bailout he’s not only had to accept two government appointments/overseers to the board of TFL plus make a fairly humiliating announcement on the congestion charge, crafted to look unequivocally like an admission of failure

      https://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/sadiq-khan-congestion-charge-tfl-bailout-government-a4441361.html

      That disablity Freedom Passes survived is a blessing. For most of us the government wants public transport used as a cudgel to beat a Labour mayor and entrenched Labour councils to death with, at the expense of the city’s viability. If things continue, public transport will be reduced to a dozen key bus routes at quarter hour intervals. Everything else will either be scrapped or sold to the lowest bidder. Nobody will be able to afford those fishbowls

  2. Elizabeth Muncey

    I have been watching the news about the creation of cycle paths and pedestrianisation with huge trepidation. I cannot walk well or fast and cannot ride a bicycle. To lose my Freedom Pass would be a disaster. There has even been an HSBC Bank poster recently about how tutting at people who walk slower than you ‘makes you a Londoner’. I don’t see any provision being made for wheelchair users. Some of us can’t use wheelchairs. It would create a (further) barrier to me getting back into some kind of employment to not be able to access buses. I am 16 years off retirement age. Current government’s lack of humanity towards people with disabilities truly frightening. Dr. Frances Ryan writes about all of this much more fluently than me.

  3. CDT

    Excellent news I am pleased to learn that disabled people entitled to a freedom pass are to retain their free fares. This is the right decision.

  4. Will the government use this as an opportunity to phase out freedom passes altogether? If so, I will certainly be using the car more and thinking long and hard about how many journeys I can afford if I have to pay to travel as I am now in zone 3 and need to take two buses to get into London. Train travel will be beyond my means.

  5. CDT

    Yes I agree.I think the freedom pass should be retained for the elderly and disabled. I sincerely hope the Government will not phase out the freedom pass as it really is a life line for many many people, .

    There are also many people that due to various reasons and disabilities cannot travel on trains or the underground hence why I think it is very important to maintain bus routes in to the heart of Central London from the Royal Borough Greenwich.

    Route 53 should be extended from County Hall back to Hence Whitehall Horseguards Parade or Oxford Circus.

  6. anonymous201486

    From time to time, route 53 is cutback from Horseguards but I think the buses are currently doing the full route.

  7. CDT

    Anonymous201486. This might be due to the current Coviid-19 crisis.and the reduction in bus services and the special timeables introduced by TFL on some routes.

    However, route 53 was cut back to County Hall as part the Mayor of London Central London bus cuts. With day route 53 operating Plumstead Station to County Hall and night route N53 Plumstead Station to Whitehall (Horseguards).

  8. Graham

    You are right in what you say CDT. Sadly Greenwich and neighbouring Borough of Bexley have always been the poor relations when it comes to public transport and in particular bus services.

    We have lost our bus services in to the heart of Central London. We have no direct bus services from the Borough of Greenwich in the London Bridge/City areas.

    Some areas still do not have a bus service to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital or Woolwich Town Centre despite the QEH it opening in 2001.

    We have some of the less frequent bus services in London with further frequency cuts planned for some routes including route 472.

    • Kevin

      You make some valid points Graham and CDT. With regard to some areas of the Borough still not having direct bus routes to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and bus routes to London Bridge ststion (Guys Hospital), and the City from the Borough of Greenwich.

      Since 2001 when the Queen Elizabeth Hospital opened we had a Labour Government in post (1997-.2010) Ken Livinstone as Labour Mayor for London (2002008), before Boris Johnson who was the Conservative Mayor For London (2008-2016 )and then Sadiq Khan Labour Mayor for London again from 2016.

      We have been campaigning for these improvements with a group of other local people since the Queen Elizabeth Hospital opened. But still these suggestions for these bus links still being ignored and not given any consideration at all.

      Greenwich Council have always been Labourin this area. But despite campaigning for these bus links with all of the above and our two local Labour MP’s Matthew Pennycook and Clive Efford all this has so far all been to no avail and these link were not even given any proper consideration at all.

      Both of these links are still very much needed as not everyone can use the train underground or DLR as pointed out previously. Many people still travel to work despite being disabled and rely on buses to do this. Many people also need to attend appointments at Guys Hospital sadly including the Cancer Centre for treatment and again rely on the bus to do this.

      In the event of a train strike or underground strike we do not have any other option but using bus involving several changes. Which could mean many sick and disabled people could miss appointments at Guys Hospital or be unable to get to work.

      So I am very very pleased that the elderly and disabled people will keep their freedom pass which is the right decision. Now we need to fight to get the improvments in bus services to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and a new bus route from the Borough to London Bridge for Guys Hospital and the City.

    • Kevin

      The problem is people have been camapigning for years for imnproved bus links to the Hospital since the Queen Elizabeth Hospital opened in 2001.

      Also for a bus route introduced to be introduced linking the Borough of Greenwich to London Bridge Station including Guys Hospital and Guys Cancer Centre and the City. As rightly appointed out not everyone is able to use the train, underground or DLR due to disabilities, health conditions or simple just do not feel safe doing so.

      We need to continue to camapign to get improved bus links to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital from more areas as the Mayor of London did and a brand new bus route introduced from possibly Woolwich to Liverpool Street Station via London Bridge station and Guys Hospital.

      Lets please stop ignoring the needs of the elderly disabled and those with health conditions when it comes to using Public Transport in London,

  9. anonymous201486

    The furtherest I can get towards London from my home in Lee, is Lewisham. Some journeys into London can involve as many as four buses.

    Long gone are the days of single bus journeys. Plumstead Common to Parliament Hill Fields anyone?

  10. Kevin

    Exactly anonymous201486. Hence why it is difficult for disabled people to get around London.

    The current Mayor of London’s hoppa fare as done nothing to compensate for the wait between buses and constant changes of buses people now have to make to reach the destination that they once reach in one bus journey.

    We have seen far to many cuts to London bus services over the last few years. in the way of frequency cuts and routes being curtailed to terminate short of there original destinations.

    I know route 53 will not run to Camden Town or Parliament Hill Fields any more but it could still run to either Trafalgar Square or Oxford Circus,

    A lot of disabled people rely on the bus to and from their place of work.Many people also work in lower paid in the hospitality field in the West End including some who start work very early morning and lsome who also finish late at night or in the early hours of the morning,

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