Industry

Sadiq Khan row erupts as Mayor threatens to remove Boris buses in funding battle


The buses were a key campaign pledge of Boris Johnson when he first became mayor in 2008 and have become seen as an important legacy, being nicknamed Boris buses or Borismasters. In total 1,000 of the buses were brought in but are now reaching their mid-life refurbishment which Mr Khan has warned TFL may now be unable to afford. The mayor’s office said the buses may have to be removed from London’s roads while the planned electrification of the city’s bus fleet could be delayed until at least 2037. During the pandemic passenger numbers on TFL’s services plummeted 95 percent which it says had a devastating impact on its finances.

Mr Khan has been pushing for a long-term funding deal which he argues is essential for committing to future investment.

In a statement today he said: “It is no exaggeration to say that tens of thousands of highly skilled jobs – many of which would be from outside the capital – will be at risk if Ministers fail to properly fund TfL.

“In addition, our strides towards bus electrification will be halted, and the capital will suffer with fewer buses on the roads and an unreliable Tube service with aging trains.”

So far the Government has offered a series of short term bailouts with Boris Johnson pointing to Sadiq Khan’s decision to freeze fares as a factor in TFL’s financial woes.

During Prime Minister’s Questions late last year Mr Johnson accused Mr Khan of embarking “on a reckless unfunded fares policy that left a huge black hole in TfL’s finances.”

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “The Government has already pledged £4 billion to keep London’s transport network running, enabling businesses to operate and key workers to continue their critical work in the capital.

“But the Mayor has a responsibility to get TfL back onto a sustainable financial footing in a way that is fair to taxpayers, rather than continuing to push for bailouts from the state.

“We will continue to discuss further funding requirements with TfL and the Mayor.”

Mr Khan has argued that the health of TFL is key for the economy across the country pointing to 3,000 jobs in bus manufacturing which it helps support.

TFL has paused awarding new bus contracts since early November and warns that jobs could also be put at risk if projects such as Central Line improvements and new tube trains are delayed.

Currently half of the new Piccadilly Line trains are set to be manufactured in a plant in Goole, Yorkshire, following a £200m investment by Siemens.

TFL says its contract with Siemens also includes options to build new Bakerloo and Central Line trains there in the future.

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However it also warns the pressures on funding have meant putting the Bakerloo Line on hold with a worst case scenario meaning it would be undeliverable for at least a decade.

Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the Trade Union Congress, said: “A fair, long-term funding settlement [for TFL] is vital not only for the London economy but the national economy too.

“Another temporary deal would hold London back, and it would put jobs at risk in London’s transport system and in transport supply chains across the country, including high quality manufacturing jobs that we need more of.”





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