A report has revealed a £900 million surplus in TfL’s budget. Labour London Assembly members have said that this money could have been used to reduce fares and reduce living costs in the capital.
Boris says that planned Tube upgrades will swallow any surplus.
But this shows that TfL bosses’ hands are not absolutely tied by poverty. TfL bosses are making choices about how their money is spent. They are choosing to cut the grant to the London Transport Museum, for example. They are choosing to de-prioritise a fares cut.
Questions must also be asked about who really benefits from the astronomic sums sucked up by Tube upgrades. Investment in improving public transport is no bad thing. But how much of this money goes straight into the pockets of private companies? Last month, Tubeworker reported that the Neasden depot signals, installed by Thales, are consistently failing due to lack of testing. The problem is still not fixed. How much was Thales paid to install it wrong? How much will they be paid to put it right?
Transport services should be publicly owned and provided so that workers and passengers have a say in what services are provided. In the meantime, unions need to get more organised about intervening in the democratic structures that govern transport in London. Unions should set up a ‘London Assembly Group’ of supportive London Assembly members, who can work with us on campaigns.