Businesses call for TfL funding deal extension as lockdown eases

Business leaders in London have urged Sadiq Khan and the Government to agree to an extension of TfL’s emergency funding deal.

With the current deal set to run out tomorrow (May 18), business campaigning group London First has said it is “essential” for City Hall and central Government to agree to an extension of the deal in a new report about the future of transport in the capital.

A deal agreed last October was extended at the end of March, with an additional £260 million of Government funding provided to keep TfL services running through May.

As London’s businesses take the next step out of lockdown this week, London First has said that keeping the transport network running is “essential to the city’s social and economic recovery”.

In addition to calling for an extension of the emergency funding deal, London First’s report has also called on City Hall and central Government to work together to develop a “sustainable and fair” long-term funding model that reduces TfL’s over-reliance on fares income.

Adam Tyndall, programme director for transport at London First, said: “London does not work without public transport – and without a thriving capital, the UK will not rebound strongly from the pandemic.

“TfL’s traditional funding model, with its over-reliance on fares compared to other global cities, was already under pressure before the pandemic and the changes to how we live and work and their impact on the transport system cannot be ignored – from flexible working to the use of e‑bikes and e‑scooters.

“While there are many different types of public transport users, all expect reliability and flexibility, which will be key to getting people back into the capital to support the recovery. That’s why TfL needs a long-term funding deal which takes account of changing passenger needs.”

The report from London First has also stressed the need to “reassure and re-engage passengers” about the safety of London’s public transport network following a year of advice to avoid it if possible.

Last week, a poll conducted by YouGov for the Evening Standard found that more than half of Londoners were uncomfortable about using the Tube due to fears about Covid-19.

London First’s report identified “reluctant returners” as one of several likely “passenger types” to emerge after the pandemic, with lingering concerns over Covid-19 likely to see continued reductions in TfL’s fare revenue.

Since the first stage of lockdown easing in April, TfL has increased its messaging about the enhanced cleaning regimes used across the transport network.

Regular testing conducted by Imperial College London had also found no traces of coronavirus on the transport network since it began in September.

This Is Local London | News