London Lib Dems hit out at Boris’s fare hikes as “shameful”

London Lib Dem mayoral candidate Brian Paddick and leader of the London Lib Dems Caroline Pidgeon have criticised Boris Johnson’s 7% price hike for public transport fares which came into force today. Here’s the party’s official statement:

Commenting on the Mayor’s 2012 fare rises being introduced today Brian Paddick, the Liberal Democrat Mayoral candidate said:

“Once again we start the year with another painful fare package from Boris Johnson. For the fourth year in a row he has racked up fares by far more than the rate of inflation.

“His latest rises will simply add to the financial problems of many Londoners – especially those on low incomes.

“Shamefully bus fares have been hiked up the most by Boris Johnson despite buses being most heavily used by low income Londoners.”

Commenting further Caroline Pidgeon, the Deputy Mayoral candidate and the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Transport spokesperson said:

“It is now time for a new approach to fares. We need to end the scandal of Oyster overcharging, and introduce targeted measures to specifically help Londoners on the lowest incomes. A one-hour bus ticket and cheaper early bird fares would make a huge difference to the pockets and purses of London’s lowest paid workers who have been hit so hard by Boris Johnsons’ excessive fare rises.”

Over at The Guardian, Dave Hill suggests this is an issue which could damage the Tory mayor, who faces re-election this May.

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  • Just imagine 3rd Jan '12 - 4:19pm

    “For the fourth year in a row he has racked up fares by far more than the rate of inflation.”

    I find this sort of comment to be very nieve. Inflation is a general rise in prices, and the recognised measures of inflation (CPI, RPI, RPIX etc) are averages. There is no reason why any individual prices should rise by the same level as inflation. The amount of any individual prices (such as a train fare) will depend on the rising (or falling) costs within that industry, not the general rise (or fall) in prices. For example, electricity and diseal costs have risen above the general level of inflation, and the rail unions have consistently demanded above inflation wage rises.

    We also need to consider investment: if the rail companies are to increase investment, they need to raise money to invest. If we keep rail fares down, we will continue to have an over-crowded and unreliable rail service.

    “Shamefully bus fares have been hiked up the most by Boris Johnson despite buses being most heavily used by low income Londoners.”

    Again, this statement is nieve. The relationship of bus fares to other transport fares is not dependent upon the incomes of the people who use busses but the cost of running busses. Bus fares, for example, are heavily affected by fuel costs. Having said that, I would be surprised if the costs of running busses were increasing as fast as the costs of running trains (and they’d be rising even more slowly if there was more competition), but in that case what is shameful is that bus users are being milked to subsidise train users.

    Obviously, it’s easy to make popular noises about transport costs, but hiding behind economically illiterate statements just makes it more difficult to devise a sensible approach to managing those costs.

  • So the Lib Dems are in favour of a socialised Bus Service? One where the service runs at a loss and the loss is made up by taxation?

  • I have a good idea for reducing the subsidy on London based on our government’s oh so successful tuition fees policy.

    London has a larger level of government expenditure per head than other parts of the UK. Londoners benefit most directly from this public expenditure and people who choose to live in London on average earn more over their lifetimes than those who live in other parts of the UK. So it is only fair that they should make more of a financial contribution towards this expenditure. This contribution should take the form of a 9% additional tax on the income of Londoners that they start paying when their income reaches £21,000. This means low paid Londoners would be exempt. It is progressive because why should a receptionist in Wakefield pay taxes to subsidise public expenditure that more directly benefits rich bankers in London?

    Anyone who is against this London tax are just deficit deniers and want to entrench the privileged position of Londoners.

    Of course, we won’t see Brian Paddick supporting this London tax because the tuition fees policy is not based on any principle that will be applied in other contexts but is just a cynical piece of generational theft from young people.

  • Matthew Harris 4th Jan '12 - 9:18am

    @Al Actually, per annum, London pays the country £20 billion more in taxes than it gets back in public spending. I believe that 21 of England’s 25 poorest wards are in London, or some such similar statistic. And Londoners already pay a supplement on on our Council Tax to fund the Greater London Authority, including TfL.

    Londoners often have a longer commute than other people do; London depends on public transport. London creates a large amount of the wealth that pays the salaries of public sector employees in other parts of the country.

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