London mayor Sadiq Khan has announced today that the one hour bus Hopper fare will become unlimited early next year, while also reconfirming a commitment to his fare freeze pledge continuing into next year.
The Hopper update will mean passengers can change buses and trams as many times as they want to within an hour, at no extra cost. The current setup allows users to take a £1.50 bus or tram journey, and then change onto another bus or tram for free, within one hour of touching in at the start of their trip.
The upgrade will also mean passengers can make the unlimited bus or tram journeys, even if they travel on Tube or rail services in between.
In September, Transport for London (TfL) said around 325,000 journeys are now being made every weekday using the Hopper fare. Over 100m journeys have been made using it since Khan introduced the Hopper fare a year ago.
The mayor said today that weekly capping is also coming to Oyster cards later next year, to bring it in line with contactless ticketing.
Khan also reaffirmed his previous commitment to maintaining the TfL fare freeze until 2020, saying the pledge will continue as planned into next year.
Pay as you go journeys on the Tube, DLR, Emirates Air Line and rail services, as well as Santander Cycles, will all be frozen next year. The fare freeze does not apply to travelcards, monthly Oyster cards, or daily caps.
The mayor said: "Millions of Londoners benefit every day from my fares freeze so I’m delighted to confirm that it will continue next year as promised. We will also be introducing the unlimited Hopper fare which will allow Londoners to change buses and trams as many times as they need to within an hour without paying a penny more. This will save Londoners millions of pounds."
Freezing travel costs is making a real difference for Londoners as the cost of living continues to rise sharply. The government must now follow my lead and freeze national rail fares – especially for London suburban rail services. If I can do it, why can’t they?
The mayor has said that by 2020, the average London household will have saved around £200 thanks to the fares freeze.
But there has been some controversy surrounding the freeze, with criticism that it has impacted London's transport budget.
TfL announced last month that upgrades for the Jubilee Line and Northern Line had been shelved after a two per cent dip in passenger numbers on the Tube. That meant the need to rejig TfL's business plan as the Tube is the only part of the network to make a profit.
But Conservative member of the London Assembly, Andrew Boff, said at a meeting of the London Assembly Transport Committee last week that cuts were down to the mayor's fare freeze.
And fellow London Assembly Conservative member, Keith Prince, said today: “In just 12 months, Sadiq Khan’s con of a ‘fares freeze’ has eluded millions of travelcard users and cost TfL hundreds of millions of pounds.
“The £640m hole in the budget has led to a cancellation of upgrade work on the Northern and Jubilee Lines, question marks over Metropolitan Line and Sutton tram extensions, a massive hike in the cost of private hire licence fees and an abandonment of TfL’s graduate scheme.
“This reckless policy, along with the underestimated cost of the Hopper fare, might win the mayor a few votes but will cause major long-term problems for London’s transport system. I urge him to reconsider.”
Today, City Hall said the latest figures from the Office of Rail Regulators show that the London Overground, where the mayor has frozen fares, was the only one of the four main train operators within London and the South East to record a rise in passenger numbers.
A spokesperson for the mayor said: “Sadiq is investing record amounts into the future of London’s transport infrastructure without burdening Londoners with huge fare hikes seen under the previous mayor.
"This includes the biggest Tube capacity growth that London has ever seen. TfL’s modernisation programme and in-depth technical work means that they can increase the frequency of existing trains and improve the reliability and performance of the Northern and Jubilee lines without the immediate need for new trains."