19 October 2021
London TravelWatch and London First joint letter written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak making the case for adequate funding for public transport in London. For more information, please visit the London First microsite here.
Ahead of the spending review, we are writing to you as an alliance of diverse organisations united behind the need for a sustainable and inclusive public transport network to keep London, and the national economy, moving.
Over the coming months, people will be making critical decisions on how they will travel in the post-pandemic period. The evidence is that a sizeable minority of people are delaying their return to the social and economic activities they have missed due to a wariness about public transport. It is important that when they do decide to return, London’s sustainable and inclusive public transport network is still running the high-quality, high-frequency, services that make it an attractive option.
This challenge is particularly acute in the capital which is more reliant on public transport than any other region of the country. And those in London who are most reliant on public transport to access jobs and services are often those from some of the country’s most deprived communities. These disparities and their effects on the wider economy are already being felt as private car use is returning more quickly than public transport use. This is increasing congestion and undermining the capital’s attractiveness as a place to live, work, and play.
But it is not just London that is at risk. The national economic recovery from the pandemic will be slower without a strong public transport network in and around the capital. In normal times, London accounts for nearly a quarter of national GVA and every Londoner makes an annual net contribution to the Treasury of £4,350. This helps to fund vital public services across the country as well as core Government policies like levelling up and achieving net zero.
Your decisions in both the comprehensive spending review and the negotiations regarding continued operational support for Transport for London will shape these outcomes. We urge you to ensure there is adequate funding available so that public transport services are not prematurely cut (more on this here). London needs a transport funding deal that:
- Enables sufficiently inclusive, affordable, and frequent bus, train and Tube services so that public transport use can increase, especially as London recovers from the pandemic and patterns of demand change;
- Incentivises efficient, safe and reliable transport services;
- Helps the capital to achieve its net zero and clean air goals;
- Provides medium-to-long-term certainty so that the capital investments London needs can be planned and developed; and
- Maintains Transport for London as an integrated transport authority with the independence to make operational decisions and renewals investments.
These principles should inform a fair settlement for transport capital expenditure in the spending review period. This could help to unlock new growth areas and decarbonise transport – particularly buses – in the capital, especially if coupled with certainty over the extraordinary revenue support that TfL will require before returning to operational self-sufficiency in 2023. The short-term deals that have been granted so far hold back investment and absorb significant amounts of time and energy that could be better used delivering the public transport on which the city, and the national economy, relies.
Emma Gibson, Director, London TravelWatch
John Dickie, Chief Executive, London First
Abi Wood, Chief Executive Officer, Age UK London
Rt Hon Norman Baker, Advisor to the CEO, Campaign for Better Transport
Katie Pennick, Campaigns Lead, Transport for All
James Cleeton, Sustrans London Director
Oliver Lord, Head of Clean Cities Campaign (UK)
Chris Todd, Director, Transport Action Network
Richard Burge, Chief Executive, London Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Jace Tyrell, CEO, New West End Company