A real terms transport fares freeze in January is welcome news. But TfL could continue to freeze fares at inflation in future years. It has an annual turnover just shy of £10bn and a capital investment programme in the tens of billions. Freezing fares at inflation for a year costs just £34m in lost revenue, so the tricky part is finding the money without harming investment. Here’s how we could do it. First, TfL’s pension costs are huge. Part of the reason is that staff, supported by the unions, cling on to gold plated pensions while the rest of the public sector is cutting back. Bringing TfL contributions in line with the average paid by local government could have saved TfL £144m in 2011 alone. Secondly,
TfL has committed to introducing driverless trains on the Tube. Money could be saved now, however, by accelerating the programme. A Tube driver recruitment freeze on the Jubilee, Victoria and Central lines by fast-tracking driverless trains would bear down on the £141m annual wage bill. The free travel passes gifted to friends, family or lodgers of TfL staff should also go. They cost at least £17m a year. Finally, TfL should be boosting the commercial revenue it generates. Selling the naming rights to Tube stations (like with the Emirates cable car) could generate tens of millions of pounds annually.
Richard Tracey, GLA Conservatives transport spokesman
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