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Khan issues stark warning on Transport for London funding

Words: Huw Morris
London Underground

The UK’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic will stall transport services and infrastructure will collapse, and economic growth will be stifled without appropriate government funding for Transport for London (TfL).

The stark warning by London mayor Sadiq Khan comes after TfL’s finances were “decimated” by Covid-19, with £2 billion required for the second half of 2020/21 on expiry of the existing government funding deal and a further £2.9 billion anticipated during 2021/22 to stabilise the network’s financial position. TfL is instrumental to the city’s economy, he added, also generating around 23 per cent of the country’s GDP.

Khan said the latest modelling shows that passenger numbers on public transport is likely to remain significantly down for the foreseeable future – and with future social distancing levels uncertain, there remains a significant threat of numbers collapsing further. Further investment is also needed to complete the Elizabeth line, which is jointly sponsored by central government and TfL. 

The mayor warned that without this support, the outlook for the capital would be bleak, with transport inevitably deteriorating amid increasingly unreliable services deterring investors, developers, and businesses from doing business in London. This would stifle economic growth in some of the poorest boroughs in the country and see London lose out to international competitors. 

“I need to be honest about what is at stake if the government fails to provide TfL, which has played a vital role throughout the pandemic, with the appropriate funding it needs to function,” Khan said. “Transport operators across the world have been hit harder than ever as a result of passengers following advice and staying home during the pandemic – TfL is no exception, and further borrowing is not a viable solution.

“The choice is stark: a safe and effective transport network that continues to deliver for Londoners and support jobs in the capital and across the UK, or a government-led spiral of disinvestment that sees vital infrastructure age and fail – wasting hundreds of millions of pounds, stalling economic recovery, and taking us back to the deteriorated transport network of the 80s and 90s.”

Image credit | iStock