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TfL warns that 100 bus routes could be cut without emergency funding

Transport for London (TfL) could be forced into a ‘managed decline’ scenario if the government does not provide emergency funding to maintain the capital’s transport services.

In January, TfL admitted that it would need at least two years of additional financial support to keep it afloat due to the disastrous effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on its finances. This was largely due to sharp falls in passenger numbers which saw rail journeys drop to lows not seen since the Victorian era.

According to City Hall analysis, without a fresh round of funding TfL would be forced to cut more than 100 bus routes, with an overall 18 per cent reduction in service levels. This would be coupled with a fall in reliability due to the inability to modernise train fleets, some of which date back to the 1970s.

Further losses would also come from severely constraining future capital investment in the road and transport network.

The analysis estimates that without further funding the UK economy could lose £7.3bn over the next decade due to a reduction in productivity from commuters as a result of service delays and infrequency and road congestion. London was recently declared the most congested city in the world for driving.

A further £4.5bn could be lost from wider economic benefits over the same period alongside the cost of increased carbon emissions for a total economic impact of over £12bn in the next 10 years. City Hall argues that this exceeds the additional funding required by TfL by £5.2bn and means that every £1 the Treasury invests in TfL will return £1.75 in benefits.

As well as further operational support needed for the current financial year, an additional £1.2bn will be needed for the financial year 2022/23 as well.

TfL have already made some cutbacks, such as putting the Bakerloo line extension on pause – works which wouldn’t occur for more than a decade in a “managed decline” scenario. The West London orbital would also not be developed until at least the 2030s and the Piccadilly line signalling upgrade would also not go ahead.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “This comprehensive analysis shows the truly dire economic and social impact that a managed decline scenario would have on our capital.

“From failing to progress major projects and undoing our hard work tackling carbon emissions, to halting the delivery of new homes and cutting transport services, there will be knock-on effects in nearly every area of the capital’s economy if the government fails to properly fund TfL – with London’s most disadvantaged groups affected the most.

“It is now only three days until the current TfL funding deal expires and I continue to urge the government to step up negotiations so we can save London’s transport network and with it the economic recovery in the capital and wider country.”

The Department for Transport has previously said it is committed to London and a deal that works for all taxpayers.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “We have thus far supported London with over £4bn funding and will make sure services are protected whilst work on the next settlement is underway.”

Andy Byford, London’s Transport Commissioner said: “There is a clear relationship between London’s economy and the efficient and reliable transport service that supports it. There can be no UK recovery from the pandemic without a London recovery and London’s recovery will rely upon its transport system.

“It is essential that in the days remaining before the current agreement with government expires, a solution is found that prevents a downward spiral for transport in the capital and allows to us get on with the job of re-energising London to the benefit of the whole country.”

In June, the government agreed a £1.08bn funding package for TfL alongside obligations that it would develop a business case for driverless trains.

TfL has already reduced the number of staff it employs by 14 per cent since 2015/16, from 31,200 to 26,800.

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