Today, mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone has pledged to cut bus, train and tube fares by 5% in the autumn of 2012, with fares frozen until 2014, and after that only rising in line with inflation.
Outlining his vision for London, the former Mayor declared war on Boris’ fare hikes. In fact, with another 8% increase scheduled for January 2012, meaning that a single oyster fare would have risen from 90p when Boris first entered office in 2008, to £1.40 by 2012, Red Ken has decided to make fare fairness a central campaign pledge in the 2012 Mayoral elections.
Ken Livingstone adds, “Fares must be cut, on transport grounds to make the system more attractive, but also on economic grounds to put ordinary Londoners first by putting money back in the pockets that will boost the London economy.
I’m drawing a line in the sand – Boris Johnson will hit you with a painful fare increase this coming January, but if I am elected by October the fares will be cut. There could be no clearer choice.”
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Likely to be a popular policy with many disgruntled Londoners across the political spectrum, Boris has little room to manoeuvre on the issue, with fare increases perhaps being the most identifiable product of his reign, obviously putting the cool bikes to one side. And in a year where the London Olympics is likely to weigh heavy on the mind, such a policy may prove a real catalyst for Ken’s return to office.
Now, to really grab the bull by the horns, Ken should seek to address the truly ridiculous issue that has plagued users of London buses for years. A single fare should last for an hour. Once you tap in, you should be permitted to travel around during that time without having to pay again. The fact that this policy has not yet been properly mooted by any mayoral candidates is a gross oversight and one steeped in unfairness. After all, it’s not customers faults that a bus doesn’t perfectly line their route and they should not be penalised for this.
roughsociety’s final word
Regardless of this, having made a big gesture on fares Ken has truly taken the initiative before the mayoral campaign really starts to hot up in the new year. Now it remains to be seen whether Ken can convince the fringe boroughs, who swung the 2008 race Boris’ way to vote for him. If he can, we might just have Ken waving that flag at the Opening Ceremony come August 2012.
Must Watch: Ken Livingstone’s speech to the Labour party conference.