Wednesday 8 February 2017 2:46 pm

"Serious questions" over mayor Sadiq Khan's ability to balance the books as TfL fares income is down £90m

The mayor has come in for criticism after Transport for London (TfL) revealed a £90m shortfall in income for the year to date against budget, pointing to fewer passenger journeys.

Figures released at the February TfL meeting revealed income shortfalls across all forms of transport, with overall fares income down £90m against budget, "driven by lower passenger volumes", London Underground down £43m due to 14m fewer passenger journeys than budgeted and bus fare income down £51m, with passenger volumes "affected by congestion".

Read more: Changes to agency contracts could push out temporary TfL workers

The drop in income has led to criticism from Conservative General London Authority (GLA) Assembly members, saying the figures raise "serious questions about the mayor's ability to balance the books".

Gareth Bacon, London AM for Bexley and Bromley said: "Under the previous administration, TfL’s budget had room to adjust to unexpected changes like income shortfalls, but Sadiq Khan’s costly policies have afforded TfL no such luxury."

Bacon warned that the mayor already needed to find £670m in savings with the partial fares freeze and hopper fare and "this could now be as high as £760m".

The TfL finance report said the introduction of the Hopper fare in September last year to make bus travel more affordable is expected to reduce income by £18m.

“These policies have put London’s transport budget on a knife-edge and are already impacting future investment. Today’s news only worsens this situation," Bacon said. "This reduced fares income could send the Mayor’s house of cards tumbling down, and it will take years to clean up this mess.”

But Val Shawcross, deputy mayor for transport, said:

Through the TfL Business Plan, Sadiq has ensured that we can deliver a TfL fares freeze while investing record amounts modernising London’s transport’s infrastructure. 

We are delivering major efficiency savings that have already reduced the net cost of operations by £129m compared with the first three quarters of 2015/16 – far outweighing this slightly lower fare income – and generating more money from our commercial development.

The previous mayor refused to do it, but in reorganising TfL, we are able to deliver an affordable, accessible, safe and modern transport network for all Londoners.”

Read more: Tube delays from overcrowding have tripled in five years

It comes as recent figures revealed that Tube delays caused by overcrowding have surged in the past five years, causing passengers to waste 390,786 hours in the past 12 months.

In the last quarter, TfL recorded a 19 per cent rise in delays on the Underground – as a long-running problem with wheels on Piccadilly Line trains took about the half the fleet out of service.

And the mayor warned today that the capital's transport network will grind to a halt due to overcrowding unless government support is provided for Crossrail 2.

“Half the cost of the project can be met through funding from London, but we need the government to meet the other half if we are to avoid this unbearable strain on our transport network," he said. "Crossrail 2 is the answer to help the entire country, because when London succeeds, Britain succeeds.”