Evening Standard Comment: This latest stop-gap bailout for Transport for London deal falls way short

·2-min read
 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Another day, another stop-gap bailout for Transport for London. This latest one, worth £1 billion, runs until December 11 and comes with a range of strings attached from central Government.

The funding for Hammersmith Bridge is hugely welcome. The blockage of this crucial London artery has piled misery on residents and commuters alike, and has become an international embarrassment.

Yet the foot-dragging continues. The Government is still demanding that Hammersmith and Fulham Council stump up one-third of the cost.

Instead, it should treat the bridge like any other crucial piece of infrastructure and cover the full cost, something that should have happened many months ago so the project could have been started when traffic was far lower during Covid lockdowns.

The project must now set out a rigorous timeline. We need to get cyclists and pedestrians returning as soon as possible, and pave the way for cars to shortly follow suit.

London remains a political football in the City Hall-Whitehall psychodrama. Boris Johnson — a former mayor — shows little interest in helping Sadiq Khan succeed. But does that mean he is prepared to suffocate London’s recovery, and directly add to the pain of many residents and commuters face each day?

Then there is the inflation plus one per cent rise in fares. These are decisions that should be taken by the Mayor, not in backroom deals dictated by the Government.

TfL Commissioner Andy Byford has voiced his concerns about the impact of repeated short-term bailouts on London’s ability to plan for the future. We agree. Infrastructure projects require certainty. We need a long-term solution to help get the city back on its feet.

As for Khan, surely it is the job of the Mayor to unite competing interest groups to get things done. The Mayor and the Government need to come together to keep our transport system running, and put TfL’s finances on a path to sustainability so that London can get back to business.

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