Londoners could face a 5+ per cent hike in Tube fares next year as Transport for London (TfL) is forced to adjust its prices to ballooning inflation.
Under the terms of TfL’s most recent government bailout, the transport body has to increase its prices each year by 1 per cent more than the retail price index (RPI).
New RPI figures show RPI is up to 3.9 per cent in June, with fears that this could grow over the next six months.
Inflation is rapidly rising as pent up consumer demand is being released after the end of Covid-19 restrictions.
Professor Tony Travers, local government expert at the London School of Economics, told the Evening Standard that the government should amend the terms of the bailout deal to avoid a sharp rise in fares next year.
“At a time when the Government and TfL are trying to get more people back on to public transport after the pandemic, it couldn’t have come at a worse time,” he said.
“The implication of this is that the government does not have a worked-through strategy in the medium term of whether it wants people to go back to work or not.”
TfL fares rose by an average of 2.6 per cent in March this year – the first widespread increase since Sadiq Khan’s fares freeze began in 2016.
The freeze is estimated to have cost TfL £640m in fares revenue.
The transport body lost more than 90 per cent of its revenue when the country was first plunged into lockdown last year, with passenger numbers not yet recovering.
This has forced TfL to ask for a series of bailouts from central government to keep services running.
A Transport for London spokesman said: “Both the mayor and TfL are committed to keeping public transport as accessible and affordable as possible. No decisions on fares for 2022 have been made.
“When a decision is made, consideration will need to be given to the prevailing economic circumstances and the explicit requirement made by the Government that the Mayor raise fares in January 2022 by RPI+1 as condition of the current TfL funding settlement.”