Zac Goldsmith has promised to keep spending on London’s rail and roads while pushing up fares if elected mayor, in a transport manifesto that attempted to paint a choice between Labour’s “experiment” in freezing fares, or delivering new infrastructure.
Launching the manifesto in Ilford on Wednesday morning, the Conservative candidate pledged to “get London building” by pushing ahead with projects including further tube upgrades, Crossrail 2 and a southern extension to the London Overground, which he claimed could be jeopardised by Labour hopeful Sadiq Khan’s proposed fare freeze. Goldsmith said that keeping fares at current levels would create a £1.9bn black hole in the capital’s investment plans.
While younger Londoners will see fares rise, Goldsmith promised that he would keep the freedom pass, allowing over-60s to travel free, throughout the mayoral term – a pledge also made by Khan.
Goldsmith said 270,000 homes and 250,000 jobs would be unlocked by transport investment, most of which is already planned. He said: “It’s not just vital to keeping London moving, it’s also key to unlocking the land to build the homes London so badly needs.
“That’s why I’ll protect investment in London’s transport system. And it’s why Sadiq Khan’s £1.9bn black hole in the transport budget would be such a dangerous experiment, bringing gridlock to our capital, fewer new homes and meaning council tax hikes for every family in Greater London.”
Labour disputes the figures, and says the fare freeze would be paid for by efficiency savings and merging engineering functions within Transport for London, as well as clamping down on fare evasion – and ending further funding for pet projects of the current mayor, Boris Johnson, including the Emirates cable car and further purchases of the new Routemaster buses.
Goldsmith meanwhile promised to take on transport unions and end tube strikes – a pledge that echoed the campaign promises of Johnson, who saw strikes on the underground roughly double in frequency during his two terms.
The Richmond Park MP also pledged to tighten proposals for an ultra-low emission zone in central London, including allowing private hire firms to expand only through adding zero-emission vehicles.
Goldsmith said he would expand the reach of the cycle hire scheme and make it accessible via Oyster cards. The outer boroughs could also expect an urgent review into their “overcrowded and congested” bus networks.
A longstanding opponent of Heathrow expansion, Goldsmith signalled that he would back “an airport solution based on competition and choice, not monopoly” – a thinly coded affirmation of support for a new runway at Gatwick, should that be approved by the government after the mayoral election.
This article was written by Gwyn Topham Transport correspondent, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 30th March 2016 09.00 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010