TfL doesn't "fully understand" why passenger numbers are falling, says London Assembly Budget Committee

 
Rebecca Smith
TfL has seen lower growth in demand for its services than previously expected
TfL has seen lower growth in demand for its services than previously expected (Source: Getty)

London Assembly members are not convinced that Transport for London (TfL) "fully understands" why its passenger numbers are falling, according to a report out today.

The London Assembly's Budget and Performance Committee has published a response to the mayor's draft budget, saying it was seeing more indications that TfL was experiencing "financial difficulties", which will impact on services, with passenger numbers and fares revenue "well behind budget".

TfL has revised its fares expectation for 2017-2018 down by £240m on last year's budget.

London Assembly members are not convinced the dip in passenger numbers is "a 'blip'", adding that if the fall is down to lifestyle changes, with more people working from home, shopping online, and using ride-hailing apps like Uber, then an expected upswing "may not materialise".

Read more: TfL says major Tube upgrades cancelled because of dip in passenger numbers

TfL had previously blamed the unexpected fall on "economic factors affecting the whole of the UK, including the uncertainty of Brexit".

The fall in fares revenue, and the end of its government subsidy, has led to TfL cutting its local implementation plan funding to boroughs and suspending its programme of renewals on the road network. The Committee also noted plans to cut bus services by seven per cent over the next five years, and upgrades to the Jubilee and Northern Lines being shelved.

The report warned that Londoners will start to see effects over the next few years, forecasting overcrowding from the cancelled capacity upgrades on the London Underground, and roads potentially becoming less safe and reliable if renewal work is not invested in.

Gareth Bacon, chairman of the Budget and Performance Committee, said:

The mayor has decided to spend less on London's roads to help balance the books - things could get bumpy for bus passengers, cyclists and motorists in the next few years.

A mayoral spokesperson said:

The mayor and TfL are investing record amounts in the future of London’s infrastructure, including the continued modernisation of the London Underground, investing in the next generation of cleaner buses, and record spending on London’s cycling infrastructure.

They added: "If it wasn’t for the government’s unfair funding model, even more money could be spent on improving London’s roads. Londoners currently pay about £500m a year to central government through vehicle excise duty (VED).

"However, as TfL manage strategic roads within greater London, none of this VED money comes back to London to spend on our roads, leaving the unfair situation of London's public transport passenger fares cross subsidising road maintenance and management in London."

The DfT said earlier this month it was the responsibility of the mayor to determine how TfL's budget is spent.

Read more: Transport for London blames Brexit for surprise fall in passenger numbers

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