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The UK Government has agreed a £1.6 billion bailout package for Transport for London to protect essential train and bus services during the Coronavirus recovery stage.
TfL serves around a billion passengers a year. More journeys by bus were completed in London than the rest of the country added together.
However, the pandemic has put unprecedented pressure on the tube and bus network,
To safeguard services, a package of loans and grants has been agreed based on a series of conditions laid out by Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London.
A London COVID-19 Task Force, featuring TfL and Government officials, has been set up to oversee operational decisions during the crisis.
Credit: Langton Photography
Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, said “People should avoid using public transport and work from home wherever possible, but as measures are slowly lifted it is vital that Londoners who need to use TfL services feel safe and secure. We must drive an increase in services to support social distancing and ensure our Capital keeps moving, driving the economic recovery of this country going forward. This deal will encourage a real move towards a greener and healthier walking and cycling options, ease pressure on our public transport and provide certainty and stability for London’s transport services in the future.”
To reduce the risk of overcrowding, the deal will see the suspension of the Freedom Pass and 50+ card concessions – this will be a temporary suspension,
Another temporary suspension will see free travel for under 18s axed, with special arrangements in place for children who have to travel to school in place.
Credit: Langton Photography
The Mayor has also agreed to increase fares by the RPI plus 1% in line with the business plan for TfL.
The deal includes a grant of £1.095 billion and a loan of £505 million. The deal will run until October 2020.
London’s Transport Commissioner Mike Brown MVO said “I welcome this support from Government which will help us continue to get London moving and working again, safely and sustainably. London’s transport network is absolutely fundamental to the economic, social and environmental health of the Capital. Throughout the pandemic, transport workers have played a heroic role in response to the virus –ensuring NHS and care staff have been able to get to work and save lives.
Credit: Transport for London
Mike continued “We have worked closely with the Government and Mayor as part of the national effort to fight the virus, rapidly reducing passenger numbers to levels not seen for 100 years. This has meant that our fare and other revenue has fallen by 90 per cent. “We now need to help London recover as restrictions on movement are gradually eased, with public health and more active forms of travel at the forefront of our thinking. “We have been operating up to 70 per cent of peak Tube services and over 80 percent of bus services with many of our staff ill, shielding or in self isolation. From next week we will further increase services beyond this as we progressively build towards restoring services to pre-COVID levels. To maintain social distancing wherever possible, the transport network needs to operate differently during this extraordinary period. In line with advice from the Government and Mayor we are encouraging people who can work from home to continue to do so to enable the people who must travel to do so safely. We are asking everyone to try and avoid the busiest times to support social distancing wherever possible, to wear non-medical face coverings when they do need to use public transport, and to walk and cycle whenever possible. We are providing extensive new cycling and walking facilities to support journeys by these means. Enormous challenges remain, including agreeing longer term sustainable funding for transport in the Capital. In the meantime, we will continue to do everything in our power to help deliver a successful recovery for our great city.”
This article first appeared on www.railadvent.co.uk
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