London Tube and bus fares frozen by Sadiq Khan until 2025 in boost for commuters

Sadiq Khan on Friday announced a freeze in most bus and Tube fares as he sought to dramatically pave his way to re-election.

The mayor said pay-as-you-go fares – which account for about 80 per cent of Tube journeys and 74 per cent of bus journeys – would remain unchanged until March next year.

They had been expected to rise in line with national rail fares, which the Government has decided to increase by 4.9 per cent in March.

This means a London bus fare will remain at £1.75 while a single adult zones 1-3 Tube fare will remain at £3.70 at peak times and £3 off-peak and at weekends.

Most pay-as-you-go fares on the Elizabeth line and on the London Overground will also be unchanged.

However the cost of a Travelcard – which allows unlimited train, Tube and bus travel within specified areas - will rise between 4.6 per cent and 5.1 per cent depending on the zones selected.

Sadiq Khan joined morning commuters on a Jubilee line train on Friday (PA)
Sadiq Khan joined morning commuters on a Jubilee line train on Friday (PA)

This means a zones 1-4 Travelcard will rise from £15.20 to £15.90 while a zones 1-6 Travelcard rises from £21.50 to £22.60 for peak travel and from £15.20 to £15.90 for off-peak travel.

The Day Travelcard for passengers outside London will rise by an additional three per cent as part of the package to save it from the axe.

The cost of Travelcards is set in negotiation with the train companies - meaning the mayor does not have the unilateral power to freeze rates.

In addition, the daily and weekly “cap” on the amount paid by passengers making multiple pay-as-you go journeys will also rise between 4.1 per cent and 5.1 per cent, meaning many travellers will still pay more overall despite the fares freeze.

The daily cap on journeys within zones 1-2 will increase from £8.10 to £8.50, from £9.60 to £10 for zones 1-3, from £11.70 to £12.30 for zones 1-4 and £14.90 to £15.60 for zones 1-6.

Mr Khan will also increase the penalty for fare dodging from £80 to £100 to increase its deterrent effect and in a bid to recoup more of the £130m a year lost due to Transport for London as a result of people failing to pay.

The fares freeze is being funded with £123m from City Hall’s budget after Mr Khan was the beneficiary of a £512m “windfall” funded by extra business rates and reserves.

Friday's Standard front page (Evening Standard)
Friday's Standard front page (Evening Standard)

He hopes it will ease the cost-of-living crisis, encourage more people to use public transport and deliver a knock-on boost to the capital’s cultural, retail and hospitality industries.

It comes after he announced plans to continue to offer all London primary school children free school meals for a second year if he wins a third mayoral term in May.

But it will be followed by an 8.6 per cent hike in his share of council tax, adding £37 to a typical household’s bills.

Mr Khan, who froze pay-as-you-go fares in his first mayoral term, said: “The cost-of-living crisis continues to hit Londoners hard. That’s why I’ve decided to step in again to freeze all TfL fares.

“Not only will this put money back in people’s pockets, making transport more affordable for millions of Londoners, but will encourage people back onto our public transport network.

“While people across the country face another hike in their rail fares, I simply wasn’t prepared to stand by and see TfL customers face a similar hike.”

But his Tory mayoral rival Susan Hall said the fares freeze was a “last roll of the dice” and said Londoners would pay for it through higher council tax bills and Ulez charges.

Mr Khan’s previous partial fares freeze, between 2016-20, was estimated to have cost TfL £640m in lost income.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan travels on an escalator at Leicester Square underground station (PA)
London Mayor Sadiq Khan travels on an escalator at Leicester Square underground station (PA)

The decision to again freeze fares shows the remarkable turnaround in TfL’s fortunes since the pandemic.

It received more than £6bn of Government bailouts but is now on course to deliver its first-ever “operating profit” – about £144m – by March.

However its debt levels are due to rise by about £250m a year and will total more than £17bn by 2026/27 – up £3bn on pre-pandemic levels.

Neil Garratt, leader of the City Hall Conservatives, said: “Let’s be clear, Sadiq Khan is temporarily freezing TfL fares to try to buy the votes of Londoners.

“As chairman of TfL, Sadiq Khan has run cap in hand to the Government at every opportunity crying poor and demanding money to keep London’s buses, trains and Tube moving.

“Facing an election in May, the Mayor has miraculously found £123m from his magic money train to freeze fares for one year. Londoners are no fools. They will see this fare freeze as a desperate bid by a failing mayor to win their vote.”

Zoë Garbett, the Green Party mayoral candidate, said: "London is one of the most expensive and unaffordable major cities in Europe and so a fare freeze is very much welcomed news.

"Freezing fares should really just be the start. There is much more that needs to be done to make public transport more affordable."

Lib Dem candidate Rob Blackie said: "Sadiq Khan's flashy fare freeze fools no one. It is typical of a Mayor who prefers delivering headlines to delivering for Londoners.

"We all know the state of Transport for London's finances and so the Mayor will simply claw this back through other means - most likely after votes have been cast. It is simply an election year gimmick."

Muniya Barua, deputy chief executive of BusinessLDN campaign group, said: “Affordable fares are vital for getting more people onto public transport and encouraging more hybrid workers back into the capital, particularly on quieter Fridays.”

Paul Tuohy, chief executive of Campaign for Better Transport, said: "This is good news for the millions of Londoners and visitors who use TfL services to travel across the city.

"Affordable public transport will not only help people with the cost of living, but it will also help with the fight against climate change, after the planet's warmest year on record."