A long-term funding deal for Transport for London has been kicked down the road for a further six weeks as another short term extension until 4th February was announced this evening.
The Department for Transport state they will study plans by Mayor Sadiq Khan to increase the age eligibility for the 60+ Oyster Card, end Travelcards and increase council tax by 19th January.
A day after announcing those measures Khan then announced changes to the Congestion Charge that will cost TfL £70 million a year.
This is the latest short term funding deal which offers little ability to plan for the mid term, let alone the long term.
Last minute talks
Government and TfL only begun discussions a very recently on meeting the latest deadline (well, the last one was a week ago) and expect more of the same in February.
Business groups have criticised the short term nature of talks and a failure to produce any plans for the future.
Short termism also runs the risk of staffing and expertise in place for longer term projects walking away.
Before the latest round of restrictions including a work from home order, TfL was seeing steady growth with passenger numbers back around 2010 levels. That dropped sharply since Government guidance changed last week.
Same again next month
The obvious difficulty now is late January or early February is again extremely unlikely to offer much guidance of how passenger numbers will go in the spring and beyond.
Work from home orders and greatly reduced tourism will stay in the short term, so there’s little chance of any meaningful insight before the next deadline.
The latest restrictions also push back the chance of break even by 2023 as demanded by Government.
Khan in response will be asked why he is favouring car drivers and sacrificing £70 m annual income at such a time, and why he isn’t vocal about increased devolution to gain revenue if Government will not support.
There’s much he could call for and powers many mayors in other world cities possess, such as property powers which could apply to ultra-prime London property rather than blunt instruments such as a blanket council tax rise which hits the poor to a greater extent and hotel / airbnb overnight taxes. His last manifesto was very quiet on pushing for measures.
Will he? And will government take a long term view for public transport in the capital?