The Government has agreed a £1.6 billion funding and financing package for Transport for London (TfL) to protect key bus and tube services.
While more bus journeys were completed in London last year than across the rest of England put together, the coronavirus pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on the tube and bus network.
In order to safeguard services on the network, the Government has agreed to a mixture of grants and loans based upon a series of conditions agreed by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.
This agreement includes increasing service levels as soon as possible to ensure people can follow social distancing guidelines while on the network, making sure those who have no alternative to public transport can travel safely.
In order to safeguard services in the future, the package will see the reintroduction of fares on buses and reinstatement of the congestion charge (see London Congestion Charge and LEZ reinstated).
The Mayor has also agreed to increase fares next year on all modes by RPI plus 1%, in line with the proposals in TfL’s own business plan, in order to put the organisation on a more sustainable footing.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “People should avoid using public transport and work from home wherever possible, but as measures are slowly lifted it is vital that Londoners who need to use TfL services feel safe and secure.”
In order to reduce the risk of crowding and to encourage vulnerable groups using public transport at the busiest times when there is greater risk of transmission and it may not be possible to socially distance, the deal will see the temporary suspension of the Freedom Pass and 60+ card concessions to off-peak hours.
It will also see temporary suspension of free travel for under 18s and special arrangements will be made to ensure children eligible under national legislation can still travel to school for free.
London's Transport Commissioner Mike Brown highlighted that TfL has been operating over 80% of bus services with many of its staff ill, shielding or in self isolation.
It will now progressively build towards restoring services to pre-COVID levels although it is still asking everyone to try and avoid the busiest times to support social distancing wherever possible.
Passengers are also being asked to wear non-medical face coverings when they do need to use public transport, and to walk and cycle whenever possible.
Last reviewed 21 May 2020