Sadiq Khan should be given more powers by central government to run Transport for London (TfL), former chancellor George Osborne has said.
Osborne yesterday said the government should stop “trying to micromanage how [Khan] runs TfL” and “let him take responsibility”.
Khan and the Department for Transport are currently locked in negotiations over a fresh TfL funding deal, after the current one is set to expire on 11 December.
TfL has been given four short-term bailouts since the start of the pandemic, after the transport body’s revenues fell off a cliff due to Covid lockdowns and restrictions.
The funding settlements have seen Whitehall impose a range of measures on TfL, such as putting government appointed representatives on the body’s board and raising fares.
Osborne told Conservative Home that City Hall should be given more freedom to run TfL the way it sees fit.
“Sadiq Khan is saying Transport for London – we’re having a set-to about a Tube strike – he is the mayor, he’s the chairman of Transport for London, and he should have responsibility for running the transport system in London,” he said.
“I would let him take responsibility, because then I think the public would say, ‘are you doing it well?’
“At the moment you’re giving him a free pass of saying, ‘well, you know, the government’s not giving me enough money.’”
A report from TfL earlier this month said there will be a £6.6bn black hole in its finances between 2022 and 2055, after its revenues were £1.2bn below expectations this year.
TfL warned it would need to dramatically cut services, and oversee a “managed decline” of the network, unless the government can come up with a long-term deal.
This could include shutting down an entire Tube line, according to TfL chiefs.
Rail unions will stage a protest outside parliament on Wednesday to warn the capital will “grind to a halt” without long-term financial help for TfL.