Sadiq Khan accused of breaking London fares election promise

london underground

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has been accused of breaking one of his key election pledges after he announced that his fares freeze on public transport would apply only to single journeys.

Related: London mayor: who says Sadiq Khan's fare freeze figures can't add up?

The restriction means hundreds of thousands of people who use Travelcards, Oyster cards or pay-as-you-go caps on contactless cards will not benefit from the trumpeted four-year suspension.

The Liberal Democrat London assembly member Caroline Pidgeon told Khan: “I think you have broken your fares promise today.”

There was also criticism from the Conservatives. Gareth Bacon, the party’s group leader at the London assembly, said: “Just four weeks after the election the mayor’s flagship policy has been thrown out of the window.

“By raising Travelcard prices by inflation and breaking his biggest promise he is turning his back on those who showed faith in him. Hundreds of thousands of commuting Londoners use Travelcards, and thus will never see this freeze.”

Ukip assembly members said the mayor had been “shamelessly quick” in breaking his pledge.

During his election campaign, Khan pledged that Londoners “won’t pay a penny more for their travel in 2020 than they do today”. He also accused his main rival, Zac Goldsmith, of a secret plan to hike fares.

Nonetheless, he claimed on Tuesday that his pledge had been delivered in full, pointing out that the Department for Transport sets Travelcard fares.

During a London assembly session, Khan said rail fares charged by non-TfL (Transport for London) operators were out of his control. “I can’t make the government do what I’m doing,” he said.

A spokesman for the mayor said: “The fares freeze will benefit 96% of commuting Londoners. Sadiq only has the power to set the fares on TfL services, which is why he will continue to push the government to follow his example by freezing their own fares and transferring suburban rail services to TfL as quickly as possible, so that even more passengers benefit from his fares policy.”

The cost of the freeze is estimated at about £640m over four years, significantly higher than the £450m quoted by Khan during his campaign.

TfL, in calculations seized upon by Goldsmith, had put the cost of a five-year freeze at £1.9bn, but that may have been on the assumption that all fares – and not just those for single fares – would be frozen.

Tony Travers, local government expert and director of the LSE’s Greater London Group, said the announcement by Khan came down to an issue of trust and how the average person would interpret his pledge.

“The words he used at the time made it very hard to understand the commitment only applied effectively to pay-as-you-go and cash fares on TfL-only services,” he said. “It’s inevitably going to be interpreted as not quite what was [advertised] on the tin.”

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Haroon Siddique, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 8th June 2016 17.09 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010