Politicians, business leaders, and union representatives from across London have today written to Grant Shapps to plead for a “fair funding deal” for Transport for London (TfL) in the upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR).
They warned that “inadequate funding” could lead to more services being cut, which could prevent some people from returning to public transport due to health concerns.
If so, it could “hold back London’s economic recovery from the pandemic”, they said.
TfL’s funding has been a battleground over the last 18 months, with government repeatedly choosing to give the operator short-term bailouts instead of the multi-year deal it has been seeking.
The latest funding deal, which expires in December, takes the amount that has been spent propping up the network to more than £4bn.
This autumn’s spending review will see the Treasury allocate resource and capital budgets for the next few years to the rest of government.
In the letter, which was co-ordinated by pressure group London Travel Watch, leaders wrote: “During the coming months people will be making critical decisions on how they will travel to and from, and within, London in the post-Covid period.
“The evidence is that a sizeable minority of people are wary of returning to public transport, at least in the immediate future. It is important that, if and when they do decide to use it again, they find that the services have not been cut back.
“Getting on a bus or train that is uncomfortably crowded could prompt transport users to choose less sustainable modes or not travel at all.”
The body said that it was particularly concerned about further cuts to bus services around the capital, saying that they were an “easy target”.
TfL has already flagged plans to reduced bus services by 4.0 per cent as part of plans to cut costs and fix its shattered finances.
“London’s buses have literally kept London working during the pandemic, as many lower paid key workers have relied on them to get to work to provide essential services for us all”, they wrote.
“As we start to recover, bus journeys have recovered more quickly than other modes as Londoners use them to return to work and leisure activities, and as feeder journeys for longer-distance tube and rail trips.”
Bus journeys are currently at about 60-70 per cent of pre-pandemic figures, according to the latest data from TfL.
A government spokesperson said: “We have repeatedly shown our commitment to supporting London’s transport network through the pandemic, providing more than £4bn in emergency funding to Transport for London.”