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THE government was accused today of hitting Londoners with a “triple whammy” of higher costs in return for Covid-related funding for Transport for London (TfL).
Mayor Sadiq Khan called on ministers to reconsider “ill-advised and draconian” proposals, while unions pledged resistance to “savage” attacks on transport workers’ pensions.
Mr Khan said that the government wanted to extend the £15 congestion charge zone to the north and south circular roads in 12 months’ time, which would see the zone expanded to cover around four million more Londoners.
The government was also said to want to increase TfL fares by well above the inflation rate, and double down on demands to remove free travel for under-18s.
A further government proposal is to introduce a new council-tax charge in the capital, regardless of whether residents use public transport, said the mayor.
Mr Khan said: “I simply cannot accept this government plan, which would hit Londoners with a triple whammy of higher costs at a time when so many people are already facing hardship.
“The government should be supporting Londoners through this difficult time, not making ill-advised and draconian proposals which will choke off our economic recovery.
“Ministers already forced TfL to bring forward proposals to increase the cost and hours of the congestion charge in May, now they want to expand it to cover four million more Londoners.
“They also want to significantly increase fares in London and hit all Londoners with a regressive new tax.”
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “It is appalling that the government are targeting staff pensions among a range of other savage measures in this short-term funding deal.
“I put them on notice that any attempt to hack away at our members’ pension rights will be met by an all-out campaign of political and industrial resistance.”
TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said: “This punishment of Londoners and TfL is nakedly political from the Tories.
“They were only too happy to prop up failing private train operators, but when it comes to our country’s transport success story they won’t provide the funds needed.”
Aslef’s London Underground organiser, Finn Brennan, said: “The government’s failure to provide funding for publicly owned TfL is in stark contrast to the multimillion-pound handouts to private-sector operators and management consultants.”
During PMQs today PM Boris Johnson blamed Mr Khan for having “bankrupted” TfL’s finances.
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