A statement issued from the Department of Transport today (18.05.20) states the following:
“In order to keep vital public transport services running in London and further ramp up services to support social distancing, the government agreed on Thursday 14 May a package of support for Transport for London (TfL). It comprises £1.095 billion of new grant and a further loan facility of £505 million. The support can be increased by a further £300 million of grant and loan if revenue loss is higher than forecast at this time.
The settlement for TfL was needed for two reasons. Most important is the significant fall in revenue caused by COVID-19. However, an important secondary factor was the pre-existing poor condition of TfL’s financial position as a result of decisions made over the last 4 years. Combined with significant cost increases and delays to Crossrail, this left TfL in serious financial difficulty even before the public health emergency.”
There will also be a number of additional conditions, including: restoring services to 100% of pre-COVID levels as soon as possible; requiring TfL to collect fares on buses while ensuring driver safety, which it had stopped doing during the crisis; easing congestion by the temporary suspension of free travel for over-60s in the morning peak and temporarily suspending free travel for under-18s all day. Disabled people will still be able to make use of their concession passes all day, and special arrangements will be made for those children who qualify for free travel to schools.
These suspensions are being made in an attempt to lower the amount of congestion on public transport, thus reducing the spread of COVID-19. Essentially, the government only want people using public transport for essential journeys.
Congestion Charge Increase
There has been some confusion in the responses to London Mayor Sadiq Kahn announced that the congestion charge will be raised from £11.50 to £15. People have been told to avoid public transport if at all possible, which will mean many people will choose to drive instead.
For those travelling to work, this will be a hard pill to swallow. It means they will have to pay more to drive into London, but have little choice in the matter if they want to keep their chances of catching coronavirus as slim as possible. It is a Catch 22 situation.
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