Transport for London funding runs out: TfL operating on emergency money with big cuts possible

An emergency meeting of the TfL board today (Tuesday 9th August) has revealed that Mayor Sadiq Khan has rejected some of the Department for Transport’s demands in exchange for funds.

The meeting saw TfL highlight it is now using reserves which may see an emergency notice soon issued and large service cuts.

The meeting was discussing ” a last extraordinary funding settlement with Government, which will support TfL’s final stage of its path back to financial sustainability from April 2023.”

TfL state “This proposed funding settlement was shared with TfL late on 22 July 2022 and has been subject to intense discussions with Her Majesty’s Government (HMG) officials over the intervening period.”

DLR is seeing passengers return

Transport Minister Grant Shapps stated it was his “final offer”.

Previous rounds have already seen TfL agree to increase the age of Freedom Pass eligibility from 60 to 66.

TfL are expanding the ULEZ to outer London to raise further revenue (encouraged by Conservative Transport Minister Grant Shapps) though income is expected to be modest given very high eligibility above 90 per cent of existing vehicles by the time of introduction.

Grant Shapps’ letter in previous discussions

TfL had been moving towards financial stability before 2020 and a vast reduction due to the pandemic.

Compared to most cities across the world, Transport for London are heavily reliant upon fare income compared to a balanced source of funding seen in other major world cities.

London is far more reliant on fares compared to other cities worldwide. Click to view comparison

TfL have attempted to follow models seen abroad and expand income through methods such as property development to cross-subsidise transport operation.

However the Treasury have rejected applications for support to do so and generate long term income, meaning far less housing on public land than could be possible.

Not that TfL do themselves much favour at times, as 13 years after the Woolwich DLR extension opened a large amount of land in Woolwich town centre is still vacant.

Woolwich DLR station seen from Powis Street. It was supposed to have above-station development

An agreement was made with developer Oakmayne in 2007 – but nothing has happened since.

TfL are also spending large sums on Silvertown Tunnel out of public funds aside from their PFI deal with Riverlinx.

No progress for 15 years

However, these sources of potential far from make up funding required to operate services in the short to mid-term as passenger numbers recover and London’s population grows once more.

In recent weeks the Home Office has made it easier for more Hong Kong nationals to move to the UK – though central government seem intent not to fund services for a growing population. Recent census figures show a sharp rise in the population between 2011 and 2021.

Where things go from here is unknown. The DfT seem intent on playing to the gallery (driverless trains on the tube would cost billions in a time of recession – it’s not happening) while Khan has not fully embraced ways to increase revenue. It’s not long since he reduced Congestion Charging hours costing TfL revenue.

While both are at loggerheads, Londoners face an uncertain future as does business. A London that doesn’t operate ensures less tax revenue for the Treasury.


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J Smith

I've lived in south east London most of my life growing up in Greenwich borough and working in the area for many years. The site has contributors on occasion and we cover many different topics. Living and working in the area offers an insight into what is happening locally.

    One thought on “Transport for London funding runs out: TfL operating on emergency money with big cuts possible

    • A solution to the TFL funding crisis has to be found with the Department Of Transport. Although Sadiq Khan Mayor For London has to accept some responsibility for the funding crisis at TFL.over his time in office. As TFL was facing a budget crisis before the pandemic.

      The pandemic did see a huge decline in passenger number and fare revenue i totally agtee. However, Fare evasion remains high and cost TFL millions each year. Passengers are now returning with more journeys made every day.

      The Silvertown Tunnel is coming out of public funds rather the PFI as mentioned by John which is likely to cost Londoner’s billions before being completed.

      There are a lot of issues to be sorted at TFL. But Londoner’s cannot keep being held to ransom with threats of more cuts to services. Londoners would lose some vital links if bus services cut. Also these cuts will cost London it’s place as a major capital city investors and businesses could decide to invest in cities elsewhere in the UK or Europe which have much better public transport infrastructures. So we need to get a good long term funding deal for TFL as soon as possible.


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