The government’s plan to “level up” economically deprived parts of the UK will fail if Transport for London (TfL) is not given a long-term funding deal, London mayor Sadiq Khan has said.
Khan today warned “tens of thousands of highly skilled jobs” across the UK were being put at risk by the government’s unwillingness to provide a sustainable funding settlement for the capital’s public transport provider.
Khan said a series of TfL projects, including the refurbishment of Routemaster buses, are currently under threat due to insufficient government funding post-Covid.
TfL has relied on a string of short-term funding deals worth more than £4bn to stay afloat since 2020, after the original Covid lockdown led to its revenues crashing by 90 per cent.
The latest, agreed by TfL and the Department for Transport last month, will run out on 4 February.
The government wants Khan to show concrete ways of how he can save TfL money, with the mayor already unveiling another 8.8 per cent increase in council tax this year to try and plug the gap.
The transport body has warned that it could face a scenario of “managed decline” without long-term funding, which would include reducing the number of Tube and bus services.
Khan today said TfL’s £7bn a year contribution to the British economy, and the 43,000 jobs it supports, was under threat.
“It is no exaggeration to say that tens of thousands of highly skilled jobs – many of which would be from outside the capital – will be at risk if ministers fail to properly fund TfL,” Khan said.
“In addition, our strides towards bus electrification will be halted, and the capital will suffer with fewer buses on the roads and an unreliable Tube service with aging trains.”
A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “The government recognises the importance of the London transport network, which is why we have already provided more than £4bn in emergency funding to Transport for London to keep essential services running, enabling businesses to operate and key workers to continue their critical work in the capital.
“We continue to discuss further funding requirements with TfL and the mayor and any support provided will focus on getting TfL back onto a sustainable financial footing in a way that is fair to taxpayers across the country.”