London drivers could have to pay £27.50 a day if they drive an old polluting car through the center of the city under new congestion charge
- Sadiq Khan claims ministers are demanding he vastly extends congestion zone
- Some motorists could be charged twice if they also travel through the ULEZ
- Boris Johnson yesterday accused Mr Khan of ‘effectively bankrupting’ TfL
London’s drivers could soon be forced to stump up £27.50 each day as part of a Government bailout of TfL.
Sadiq Khan claims ministers are demanding he extends the £15 congestion zone to the North and South circulars as a condition for financial support.
Such a drastic expansion would cover four million more Londoners and may see some motorists charged twice if they also travel through the £12.50 Ultra Low Emission Zone.
The mayor previously suggested he would not accept such conditions and branded the Government’s plans ‘ill-advised and draconian’.
But he is desperate to broker a £5.6billion funding deal to secure TfL’s future for the next 18 months, blaming the pandemic for the transport operator’s financial woes.
However, Boris Johnson yesterday claimed the mayor had ‘effectively bankrupted’ TfL before coronavirus struck and that proposals to hike charges were ‘entirely his responsibility’.
It is understood negotiations have stalled because of ministers’ insistence that any such cash injection depends on the Mayor extending the congestion zone to the North and South circulars
Boris Johnson (speaking in the Commons chamber) yesterday claimed the mayor had ‘effectively bankrupted’ TfL before coronavirus struck and that proposals to hike charges were ‘entirely his responsibility’
Sadiq Khan claims ministers are threatening to withhold the rescue package unless he extends the £15 congestion zone to the North and South circulars
Mr Johnson told the Commons: ‘The current Mayor of London had effectively bankrupted TfL before coronavirus had even hit and left a massive black hole in its finances.
‘Any need to make up that deficit is entirely down to him, it is entirely his responsibility.
‘Any expansion of the congestion charge or any other measure taken to improve the finances of TfL are entirely the responsibility of the bankrupt current Labour Mayor of London.’
Mr Khan, who succeeded Mr Johnson in the position in May 2016, responded by declaring that the Prime Minister ‘has lied’.
The mayor said: ‘Before Covid I was fixing his mess at TfL- reducing the deficit by 71 per cent since 2016. Covid-19 is the sole cause of TfL’s challenges.’
Mr Khan earlier told a meeting of TfL’s board that he intends to ‘stand firm and fight for a fair deal for Londoners’.
During the peak of the crisis TfL’s revenues dropped 95 per cent as people were instructed to work from home and footfall on carriages fell
He went on: ‘TfL is being offered only another six months’ financial support, but with ill-advised and draconian conditions that are unfair to London, fall disproportionately on those least able to afford them, would undermine the economic recovery of our city, and contrast starkly with the support provided to the private train operating companies.
‘This global pandemic will be with us for some time. We requested an 18-month support package to see TfL through the immediate crisis and the aftermath, as it is uncertain how quickly fare revenue will recover.’
Shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon said: ‘It’s extremely worrying that despite repeated requests, the Government is offering only a papering-over-the-cracks funding package for Transport for London, with such punitive conditions.’
Trade union Unite’s regional secretary for London, Pete Kavanagh, said the Government is ‘punishing the poorest Londoners for the Covid-19 pandemic’.
He commented: ‘Londoners are facing a triple whammy of increased fares, higher council tax and a massive increase in congestion zone charges.
‘The poorest Londoners, who are already struggling financially as a result of losing their jobs or coping with reduced earnings, are the ones who will be least able to afford the increases in fares, charges and council tax.’