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Thursday, 15 October 2009

Ken Livingstone on Boris Johnson

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"Today Boris Johnson has announced that he plans to raise fares by up to 20% in the New Year. He has also announced that there will be cuts to bus and tube services. This means that Londoners will be paying more money for a worse service in difficult economic times.

In response to the fare increases Ken Livingstone said:

'With overall bus fare increases of 12.7%, more than 12 times the rate of inflation, and overall tube fare rises of 3.9%, more than three times the rate of inflation, Londoners are now really paying a heavy price for Boris Johnson.

'Johnson has blamed his second year of inflation busting fare increases on 'past mistakes' and the 'current economic climate'. That is patently untrue.

'They are the result of his own policies. The fare increases are projected to raise £125 million a year. That is less than the amount Boris Johnson has thrown away subsidising well off polluters at the expense of ordinary Londoners.

'His plan to abolish the western extension of the congestion charge to Kensington will cost £50-70 million a year. His decision to scrap the £25 charge on the worst polluting gas guzzlers, like Chelsea tractors, has cost another £50 million a year. He is throwing away millions of pounds a year more with his stupid plan to get rid of bendy buses and turn the clock back with a costly new route master bus.

'I left Transport for London with very large financial reserves precisely to deal with economic difficulties. I also held down fares so that in real terms, after taking account of inflation, bus fares were lower when I left office in May 2008 than when I was elected in June 2000. Johnson is even using that to try to mislead Londoners that he has held down fares when each year in office he has increased them more than the rate of inflation, this year many times more.

'Johnson should tell Londoners the truth, not a lies. He is making them pay massively higher fares to protect a tiny number of well off polluters at a time when London has some of the worst air quality in Europe.

'At the same time, Johnson has announced cuts in bus schedules and less off peak Tube services in outer London. Londoners will be paying more money for a worse service. So much for his election pledge to stand up for outer London!

'And of course, you can rely on Tory Mayor Boris Johnson to make the fare increases fall hardest on some of the poorest Londoners with a 20% increase in the oyster bus fare from £1 to £1.20 and a 20% increase in the cost of the weekly oyster bus pass to £16.60.

'Johnson substitutes jokes for explaining his policies and so avoids interviews like the plague but today Londoners have found that it is at their expense.""

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