Don’t blame Sadiq Khan or TfL for the freedom pass ban
21 January, 2021
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan
• YOUR correspondent attacking Transport for London and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan for cutting eligibility of the freedom pass is aiming at quite the wrong targets, (Fix this madness over the freedom pass, January 14).
Under a deal agreed in 2015 between the then Conservative mayor, Boris Johnson, and the then Conservative chancellor, George Osborne, TfL now gets no central government funding, making it almost entirely reliant on fares for income (and the only European capital in this position).
The pandemic slashed fare income to the bone in 2020; with TfL on the brink of bankruptcy, the Treasury eventually agreed to give financial support to help keep vital buses and tubes running, but dictated cuts to freedom pass and young people’s travel eligibility, plus massive extension of the congestion charge, as the “price” Londoners would have to pay for even paltry help.
The contrast between the punitive conditions imposed on a major public service and the millions of pounds handed out at the same time – with apparently no strings attached – to keep privatised rail companies from going bust suggests that, even in the midst of a national emergency, this government still favours private companies over publicly-run services that benefit ordinary people.
If your correspondent wants a “reason for this attack on older folk”, then I suggest they ask 10 Downing Street rather than lambasting London councils, TfL or the current mayor.
DON KELLER, N15