London Conservatives take aim at TfL free travel perk for employees' friends and family costing £32m a year

Rebecca Smith
TfL employees can nominate a member of their household for a free travel pass
TfL employees can nominate a member of their household for a free travel pass (Source: Getty)

GLA Conservatives said today a travel perk for relatives of Transport for London (TfL) employees is coming at a cost of nearly £32m a year, as the row over TfL finances heats up.

TfL's current business plan expects a £784m deficit this year, which will then hit £968m for 2018/19. It is aiming to turn that around to an operating surplus by 2021.

New figures reveal the organisation handed out nearly 40,000 all-zones travelcards free of charge last year.

All TfL employees are entitled to free travel in Zones 1-6. They can then also nominate a member of their household for an additional pass.

Read more: Deputy mayor slams government for abandoning London's transport network

The Conservatives said that even if only half of recipients would otherwise pay for the cheapest travelcard, the cost of TfL through loss of fare income would be at least £31.9m.

Conservative London Assembly member Gareth Bacon, who obtained the data through a Freedom of Information request said today:

Nominee passes have been an unnecessary and expensive cost to TfL for several years, but in the context of significant cuts to local transport investment across the capital, this perk is becoming a scandal.

“Sadiq Khan’s financial mismanagement has already led to the scrapping of upgrade work on the Northern and Jubilee Lines and, earlier this week, TfL admitted it was abandoning all proactive road maintenance," he added. “In this financial climate it cannot be appropriate for this costly employee perk to continue. Londoners need the mayor to stand up to his union friends and scrap nominee passes in favour of greater local transport investment."

A TfL spokesperson, said:

This benefit is a long-standing part of the terms and conditions of TfL staff. There is no ‘cost’ to TfL because the number of journeys is a tiny proportion of the 11m Tube and bus journeys made per day, meaning no additional services need to be operated.

All TfL employees and their nominees are expected to act as ambassadors for TfL, helping ensure the security of the system and helping assist our customers where necessary.

They added: “We are undertaking an extensive programme to save costs and increase revenue and become more efficient, while maintaining safety, frontline services and vital investment. The day to day operating costs were reduced by £153m in the last financial year, the first such reduction in our history."

A row has been brewing over who should take responsibility for TfL's financial situation, with City Hall saying yesterday it was "more important than ever that the government supports our capital".

Deputy mayor for transport Val Shawcross said it was "just astounding" that the government was not only prepared to take away vital funding, but make London's drivers pay for roads outside the capital.

TfL's budget is £700m a year lower after the government's decision in 2015 to strip back the operating grant, while the capital's transport bosses are also angry that the government has said that from 2021, the £500m raised each year through Londoners' vehicle excise duty will be invested solely in roads outside the capital.

The budget reduction has meant all non-essential road improvements have been paused for two years.

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