The cost of traveling on public transport in London is set to rise by an average 5 percent next month, the biggest jump in a decade.
The organization that operates the capital’s transport network, Transport for London, or TfL, said the price hike matches the inflation rate and would help it reach “financial sustainability”.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he had done everything “to keep fares as affordable as possible” and that he had no choice but to raise prices because of strict government policy on funding for the transport system whose income was hit heavily by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement posted online, Khan said: “Since TfL’s finances were decimated by the pandemic, the government has set strict conditions as part of the emergency funding deals to keep essential transport services running in London.
“We have been forced into this position by the government and the way it continues to refuse to properly fund TfL, but I have done everything in my power to keep fares as affordable as possible.”
TfL said the overall 4.8 percent rise means fares in the capital will increase by either 10 or 20 pence ($0.14 or $0.27), starting from March 1.
Khan had maintained a “fares freeze” policy during his first four years as mayor, but was forced to increase prices by an average of 2.6 percent in March last year, noted the BBC.
A successive rise means more pressure on the cost of living for residents of the capital, who, like the rest of Britain, face rising inflation and energy prices.
Spiraling wholesale gas prices means the average Briton faces a rise of 600 pounds ($812) a year in energy costs, said the Daily Mail.
National rail fares will also rise by 3.8 percent next month and consumer fuel prices have also hit their highest level on record, noted the Financial Times.
There is also the planned government increase to the National Insurance tax, which will cost the average worker more than 300 pounds per year.
One passenger watchdog group told London’s Evening Standard that the price rise for TfL bus fares will disproportionately impact on lower income workers.
Emma Gibson, chief executive of London TravelWatch, said: “Many key workers and those on low incomes rely solely on the bus, as they can’t afford the Tube or train, and they will be hit hardest by this rise.”
A spokesperson for the Department for Transport, quoted in The Guardian, said it had shown its commitment to supporting London’s transport network throughout the novel coronavirus pandemic, by providing over 4.5 billion pounds in emergency funding to TfL and pledging a billion pounds annually until at least 2024/25 “all at a time of significant pressure on the national finances”.
Article Resource： CHINADAILY