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Ken’s Dead Deal.

Ken Livingstone and his supporters continue their noisy assertion that Ken would cut fares by 7% without reducing much-needed transport investment. They’re doing this in the full knowledge that they’re lying to Londoners, and despite overwhelming arguments against them. A few weeks ago, Brian Paddick sagely noted “Everybody except Ken Livingstone believes this isn’t credible”. He was nearly right – except that even Ken has stated it can’t be done. Here’s the coalition against Ken’s fares deceit, in their own words…

Ken Livingstone – “There is the small matter of the need for TfL to balance its budget in law, and the balances we carry are all allocated against the range of projects coming forward. If I were to start spending TfL’s reserves, I would have to remove wonderful projects like the West London Tram and other issues from our list of future projects.” (2007)

Boris“The simple facts of the matter are that every penny of TfL’s budget is accounted for to pay for the upgrade of the capital’s transport system. I’ve managed to protect all free and concessionary travel for the most vulnerable Londoners while sealing the black hole in transport funding that was the legacy of my predecessor’s scattergun fares policy.” (2012)

Brian Paddick – “We’ve looked at the figures, we’ve gone to TfL, we’ve looked at the books, and the money is simply not there. On this particular point, the Mayor is right and Ken Livingstone is wrong. The money is simply not there, I’m afraid, to deliver a reduction in fares in London.” (2012)

Channel 4 FactCheck – “Mr Livingstone is wrong to claim there’s a £729m surplus, and there is no ‘entirely separate’ budget for investment projects. If he cuts fares, TfL would expect to lose £1.12bn in income – and that’s a hole he wouldn’t be able to plug without hitting the day-to-day funding for London’s transport or taking money from investment projects.” (2012)

Transport for London – “As a member of TfL’s board, I would like to underscore that there is no pool of idle surplus funds at TfL. No Londoner should be under the impression that fare cuts could be implemented without negative consequences for TfL’s finances and for the current and future state of public transport spending in London.” (2012)

Tony Travers (Director of Greater London Group at LSE and local government expert) – “There is no separate budget for capital spending. A pound can only be used once. Every pound taken off fares is a pound not available for investment. London’s transport system patently and permanently needs investment.” (2011 and 2012)

Stephen Glaister (Professor of transport and infrastructure at Imperial College) - “If they (Mr Livingstone’s claims) had any substance they’d be saying TfL is incompetent and profligate in holding money. The simple point is that a pound spent on reducing fares is a pound not spent elsewhere. This isn’t magic money.” (2012)

Justine Greening (Transport Secretary) - ”Anyone who says they can cut over £1bn from TfL without hitting services and investment is seeking to pull the wool over people’s eyes. Ken Livingstone knows that the Mayor wouldn’t have the power to do this without the train operating companies’ agreement.” (2012)

Moody’s (ratings agency) – “The financial consequences of Ken Livingstone’s proposals would be catastrophic for TfL’s finances, London’s infrastructure and its prospects for growth, and as a result would render the Tube impotent. Any fall in TfL revenue could put its credit rating under pressure.” (2012)

London Chamber of Commerce and Industry – “Even after you take into consideration all currently planned transport investments, such as Crossrail and the Tube upgrades, by 2031 passenger demand will have comfortably exceeded supply. It is therefore essential that investment in London’s transport network is prioritised over fares cuts.” (2012)

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