Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

It's Time to Turn Your Attention to TfL, Boris

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

It's Time to Turn Your Attention to TfL, Boris

Article excerpt


HOW magnificently brazen it was to see Ken Livingstone attacking Boris's TfL fares increase last week. This rise, of inflation plus one per cent from January 2009, is, of course, the exact same package which the ex- Great Helmsman himself secretly agreed on 24 October last year.

The only difference, as emails leaked to the Standard in April showed, was that to the horror of his officials, Mr Livingstone simply decided to ignore the decision.

We've short memories, Ken, but not that short. And remind me: just which Mayor was it who raised fares by up to one-third in 2007? Would that have been you, or a totally different one? The real problem is not that Boris has kept Ken's 2009 fares plan but that he has, so far, left almost everything else about Livingstone's TfL intact, too. It's a problem because TfL is the Ed Balls of public administration: nothing like as good as it thinks it is.

It genuinely believes, in the words of its commissioner, Peter Hendy, that it is an "efficient and effective" provider of bus and train services.

In fact, under Livingstone and Hendy's stewardship, it has achieved the worst of all worlds: rapacious fares, vast public subsidy and often mediocre service.

The buses have improved, though at a disproportionate, unsustainable cost (bus subsidy has risen about 1,300 per cent, while passengers have risen about 45 per cent). But the Tube is the least-reliable, worst-managed metro in Western Europe, and is getting worse, not better. It is hard to overstate the damage it does to London's international reputation and to Londoners' blood pressure.

TfL genuinely believes itself a world leader which other cities follow.

Actually, other cities are surprised at our backwardness in, for instance, providing clean public transport. Even the buses in Delhi have been using cleaner fuels for years but London's bus fleet remains 99. …

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