TfL will have to “hand in the keys” to the government if a long-term agreement is not reached, according to commissioner Andy Byford.
“If we do not reach a settlement, we will be faced with a rapidly deteriorating situation in which we would not be able to continue to operate and we would likely have to hand in the keys over the government and come under their direct control,” he said during TfL’s emergency meeting on Tuesday.
Board members earlier today rushed to discuss the £3.6bn 20-month government support, which was initially put on the table by transport secretary Grant Shapps on 22 July.
Byford said that following “exhausting discussions” with ministers – which have lasted over a month – the deal’s conditions have significantly improved for TfL but nonetheless remain present.
The deal, whilst not entirely sufficient, would enable the transport network to plan for the immediate future, as it remains on track to become self-sufficient by 23 March.
“There is no financial support without conditions. That’s not how it works,” Byford explained, adding that the situation would be significantly worse under the government’s direct control.
“I’m convinced that what we’re putting before you today represents the best possible outcome that we could have achieved in a very difficult negotiating environment,” he said.
The UK Government has provided more than £5bn in bailout funds to TfL since the pandemic, as TfL – unlike many other public transport systems around the world – relies on fare revenues rather than government funding.
Nick Rogers, transport spokesperson for the GLA Conservatives, called on the mayor to “stop the political games” and agree to the settlement.
“The mayor needs to agree a deal that ensures TfL is financially sustainable, stop threatening damaging bus cuts, and reduce the wasteful spending on excessive staff perks,” he said.